Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Review: The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart

Before I heard even the inkling of a note from this New York band, I seem to recall being put off by their name. Not in the same way you're put off by a band name like And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead or I Love You But I've Chosen Darkness (what's going on in Austin?), but more feeling like the band was daring me to perform the hand clap for number of syllables test. Don't bother...it's eight claps.

Once into that first listen, I seem to again recall being dismissive. Contemplating a glance at my watch to see if we were due for an hourly shoegaze revival. I can vaguely remember being drawn to some reviews that wreaked of pre-release indie blog hype and maybe that skewed my opinion (incidentally, we here at Rattled wait for post-release to unleash our version of indie blog hype on our mass of followers). So indifferent was I, that it might have been days or even a week or two until I gave TPOBPAH another shot. Thanks goodness for my attention span being a lot shorter than their name.

Influences here are unabashedly pronounced, yet drenched with modern flavour and spin. "Contender" opens the whole set with a Jesus & Mary Chain vibe sans drums, that would be shameful if it weren't so completely sincere. "Come Saturday" carries on with the same endearing warble, but with more drums and fuzzed out guitars. Without having undergone the right amount of guitar descensitization, songs and bands like this can be a lot like getting into a tub where the water's just a bit too warm. Not too warm to get in, but momentarily uncomfortable until your skin gets acclimatized.

The J & MC love is all the way through this album, and the boy/girl vocal play reminds me a lot of the best Eric's Trip tracking. "The Tenure Itch" however, dials back the fuzz to produce perhaps the very song The Stone Roses wish they could reunite to record. It's also about half way through and very subtley, the band has transitioned to a jingle jangle deal, quite clearly designed to have every young female hipster with jet black bob cuts dancing in their bedrooms in front of the mirror, employing their best improvisational swimming arm movements and hair flopping head swings.

In fairness, my initial hesitation to invest in this record might have been purposeful on the band's part. These songs are almost written with a beckoning for indifference. Let's see who's really serious about this album, and if they come back, we'll reward them with one of the tightest sets of 10 stripped down three chord, three minute pop songs in the last 10 years. If you can become friends with the fuzzy distorted dragon guarding the album, he'll let you open the candy jar and feast until your tummy is full of sweet melodies. For all the music I plough through in a year, it's the perfect heartfelt guitar pop that always gets me most excited. Thankfully these guys let me into the club after some initial hesitation. Easily worth eight hand claps for The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart.