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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Fitter, Happier, More Productive: The Pains of Being Pure at Heart

Posted By on Tue, Feb 24, 2009 at 6:14 PM

(Tuesdays can be a trying day here in Club Land at the RFT. It's deadline day for the show/concert listings, and this fact hangs over my head just like all of those foreboding elementary school (and high school and college) homework assignments that I would inevitably put off to the last minute. But Tuesdays always go off without a hitch, and it's all because the right music always seems to present itself. Each week I'll talk about what induces the trance-like state I need to become one with the listings.)

This week I was made privy to the existence of Brooklyn's latest shoegazey blog darlings The Pains of Being Pure at Heart. While I generally try to avoid hanging my hopes and dreams as a music listener on the recommendations of the trendy New York blogosphere, in this case the band definitely lives up to the hype (at least on record).

"Everything With You"

The first sound on the band's self-titled album is about five seconds of piercing shards of guitar feedback that makes one think that TPOBPAH is about to unleash something fairly painful and rip-roaring. Instead, the young quartet slides into "The Contender" a Jesus and Mary Chain-esque pop number (sans drums) that lightly bounces on loosely strummed distorted guitar, reverb drenched jangles and soothing overtones of harmonically pleasing guitar squalls.

Heart continues with a few catchy shoegaze-influenced numbers that though well executed, draw from the same bag of tricks used by countless revivalists over the last few years (think Asobi Seksu's first record). However, this album really starts to come alive on what would be side two on the vinyl version. The band steps out from behind its somewhat tired shroud of buzz-saw guitar haze and allows its penchant for irresistible pop hooks, well-crafted melodies and its solid rhythm section grooves to shine.

"Stay Alive" is propelled forward throughout not by wall of noise but by a light acoustic strum and its smooth boy/girl unison falsetto hook. "Everything with You" takes unabashed melody cues from the Morrissey guide to writing a heart-string puller and completely sells its super-sugary message of unfettered infatuation. A classic guitar break is perfectly placed at the 2:00 mark and leads perfectly to one more obligitory go at the irresitible hook.

These songs cull the best parts of late '80s/early '90s Britpop and shoegaze bands, but manage to allude to a new band's potential greatness instead of sounding boring or derivative. Heart comes from a perspective of innocence which draws on the best parts of the past to craft an honest and endearing portrait of the present.


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