The Pains of Being Pure At Heart: Belong
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The Pains of Being Pure At Heart: Belong

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That being said, The Pains’ endearingly heartfelt and sharply-executed fuzz-pop odes to heartache, love and longing triumphed over many peers whose more meagre attempts were merely a momentary soundtrack to wistful daydreams and habitual club ventures. The hype could’ve been crippling, but The Pains have proven what many had been led to believe – they’re exceptionally stirred purveyors of earnest pop music.

 

For the group’s sophomore album Belong, Pains Of Being Pure At Heart have unveiled a more visceral and expansive trajectory that’s more intent on capturing – as frontman Kip Berman explains – “feeling, not feelings”. Whereas their debut album was recorded in a friend’s basement, Belong embodies a grander, bolder and more explorative sound that’s been elevated by the genius production and mixing team of Flood (U2, Sigur Rós, PJ Harvey, Nick Cave, The Killers) and Alan Moulder (Nine Inch Nails, The Smashing Pumpkins, The Jesus And Mary Chain).

 

One will lose no time in discovering the album’s best track because ‘Pains couldn’t resist placing their greatest track to date/the title track as the opener. The title-track exhibits a divine concoction of dreamy vocal harmonies, grunge-y rhythmics and gleaming melodics. Despite the simplistic lyrical couplets, the bracing intensity of the song renders Berman’s cry of “I know it is wrong, but we just don’t belong” so elevating, and of course it helps that he sounds half his age (literally).

 

While lyrics don’t come more preppy than those of Heart In Your Heartbreak’s chorus – “She was the heart in your heartbreak / She was the miss in your mistake” – such irritants are immediately obliterated by the song’s impossibly infectious melody.

 

Lined in ‘80s synth-pop, The Body ventures into more pensive, vulnerable territory (“I can’t feel it anymore / Tell me again what the body’s for… tell me again it’s only skin”) before confronting the malignant state by which our feelings become perpetually numbed in Anne With AnE (“We’ll call in sick tomorrow and shake ’til we can’t speak / And know it won’t get better, but still you wanna see / Our bodies fall apart and lose the will to breathe”).

 

Hazy, synth-washed dream-pop tales of sorrow, fantasy and self-acceptance are unabashedly emoted, endearingly candid and tactfully executed – whether shimmering in introspective balladry or bursting into spirited anthemic choruses, ‘Pains exert a life-affirming vigour that continues to strike an emotional chord universally.