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Twee and tuneful
indie-pop steeped in
'80s and '90s nostalgia

The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart - Belong
(Slumberland Records)
3 1/2 stars (out of 5 stars)
Reviewed: May 27, 2011
The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart

Review by Tony Bonyata

The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart are a NYC quintet that specialize in a tuneful brand of indie-pop that's hard not to get caught in its sway. With sparkling synths straight out of Depeche Mode and The Cure's late '80s songbooks (courtesy of Peggy Wang), emotionally-charged electric guitars that channel some of the best elements of early '90s alt-rock (from frontman Kip Berman and Christoph Hochheim), The Pains' sophomore full-length, Belong, digs deep into the past while repackaging it for new generation. They successfully mix shoe-gazing, slacker haze and fuzzy jangle-pop that recalls bands such as The Jesus and Mary Chain, Echo & The Bunnymen, along with heavier slabs of clangorous, yet controlled feedback that's more reminiscent of noise merchants My Bloody Valentine and even The Smashing Pumpkins back in their prime.

While it's obvious these kids have nicked many of these styles from their parents' record collection, what makes this effort so appealing is that they really know how to write some truly sweet and memorable tunes. Songs such as the bouncy first single "Heart In Your Heartbreak," and "My Terrible Friend," which features an effervescent and icy electro-melody that immediate melts when Berman wraps his fey, warm vocals around the tune, are perfect examples of how this band is able to create an up-to-date indie sound that's in step with the times, even if there is a very heavy nod to the past.

On their most recent single, the title track "Belong," The Pains incorporate a dreamy chorus with fuzzed-out guitars, while the backline of bassist Alex Naidus and drummer Kurt Feldman propel the number "Girls of 1000 Dreams" into a pummeling, yet catchy rocker that jumps the rails at a breakneck speed as it hurls itself into a blissful pop abyss. The track "Even in Dreams" may best epitomize these young NYC hipsters as they offer up their own brand of swirling, psychedelic twee pop, while also wearing their influences proudly on their sleeves. Nostalgia rarely sounds this good.

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