The Pains of Being Pure at Heart’s sophomore success

What do you get when you mix My Bloody Valentine, Nine Inch Nails and Smashing Pumpkins? One possibility is melodious indie-pop band The Pains of Being Pure at Heart

The Brooklyn-based group made its debut in 2007 when it released its debut self-titled EP. The album peaked at No. 9 on the Billboard Heatseekers chart, and ever since, the band has continued to make progress with the release of its second album, Belong.

Although a band’s sophomore album can be the kiss of death, Belong is the opposite, proving Pains has improved its sound while still keeping its characteristic style.

This 10-track album blends memorable lyrics with dreamy vocals. Not a single track pales in comparison to the others, as Pains was so deliberate in the songwriting and production that the album’s release date actually had to be postponed.

Though there are no weak songs, some still stand out more than others. The track that stands out as the catchiest is “Heart in Your Heartbreak.” Released as the band’s first single in December, the song quickly garnered attention and caused increased anticipation for the band’s sophomore album.

With moving lyrics such as, She was the heart in your heartbreak / She was the miss in your mistake / And no matter what you take / You’re never going to forget, Kip Berman elicits emotions of lost love and evokes heartache in the listeners.

In contrast, the first track of the album, “Belong,” sets the coed quartet in a sea of distorted guitars and droning melodies. The distorted guitar’s explosive sound, about 15 seconds into the track, shows Pains is eager to shows growth and development during the last two years.

The entire album is laced with lyrics of teenage angst and heartache, which can be heard especially in tracks like “Even in Dreams” and “Anne with an E.” Both closely resemble love songs and mix quiet verses with sing-along choruses.

It is easy to hear a change in the band’s production, even though it has not strayed from its 1990s vibe. Pains has moved away from its fuzzy-noise pop-sound and toward a more mature one. The emotional combination of harsh lyrics and wistful vocals creates feelings of heartache while simultaneously conjuring a need to dance and feel good.

But don’t be fooled: The band did not do it alone.

To help bring the new tunes to life, Pains enlisted the help of producer Flood and ace mixer Alan Moulder. These two music geniuses have worked with numerous successful artists including U2, My Bloody Valentine, Smashing Pumpkins and P.J. Harvey.

The partnership between the band and its new production team is exemplified in “Belong,” with the original Pains sound becoming bolder, louder and more confident.

Pains has had a busy year with the production and release of its sophomore album, but the band is not wasting any time before beginning to tour. Pains recently played at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas and will continue to tour from the end of March through the beginning of May.

5 replies
  1. walter
    walter says:

    Ok people, it’s called an opinion. I’m not sure what makes everyone an expert on their music or favorite band, but everyone is entitled to their opinion. Love all the I think I know best references but you know what, you’re a legend in your own mind. I’d prefer to hear what the band thinks of the review than you amateurs.

  2. ???
    ??? says:

    I’m a successful professional critic who wrote for the DT long, long ago. Looks like anyone can have an opinion on music now, now matter how uneducated on the subject they are. I was merely pointing out the faults in this reviewers comparisons and suggesting that next time, she actually do some research on the history of the music she’s writing about.

    Nice try in thinking I’m some angry teenager, though!

  3. ???
    ??? says:

    OK, wow. DT, do you even hire kids who know anything about music anymore? POBPAH sound NOTHING like Nine Inch Nails or My Bloody Valentine; I’m convinced this girl doesn’t even know who NIN or MBV are, let alone has heard any of their music aside from a quite YouTube listen while she was writing this article. The Smashing Pumpkins comparison can only be drawn through the whiny vocals and the fact that the bands share a producer. Nice try.

    The new POBPAH album is more closely aligned with the bands that made Slumberland famous, such as Rocketship, Black Tambourine and Velocity Girl — dreamy, washed-out indie pop. (But since the writer seems to know nothing about the history of indie music, she wouldn’t know to make those comparisons, right?)

    So, Ms. McKenna: listen to “Belong” and those Slumberland bands I mentioned, then listen to “Isn’t Anything” and “Pretty Hate Machine” and you tell me which sound more similar.

    Also, there are more words to describe guitars with than “distortion,” but there’s not much hardened distortion on “Belong” anyway! What’s that line from Princess Bride? “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” Yup.

    • questionmark fail
      questionmark fail says:

      Sounds like this guy gets a foot up his arse, but he’s 16, so we’ll wait until he’s out of his moms house.

      Two suggestions here you little angry guy behind his computer. Maybe it’s time you get out there and do your own reviews. Maybe you’ll be the next Cameron Crowe, just a lot less talented and a lot more angry.


      To the angry blogger, I say get a life!

      Cheers to all!

      • admstolz
        admstolz says:

        nope. the guy above ??? has it right. TPOBPAH sound nothing like or related to any of the bands listed in the review. NIN? are you kidding me? the closest resemblence from a band you mentioned is MBV but that’s still stretching. . .they don’t sound anything like the pumpkins either, everyone’s just saying that because they don’t know how to categorize this band so they take the lazy/easy way out and reference a band from the 90’s who used the same producer and has a little fuzz/distortion in their sound. . .like the guy said above, this band was influenced directly and sound like indie bands “rocketship”, “the softies” and bands from the infamous UK indie label sarah records like “aberdeen”, “brighter”, and “the field mice”. i strongly believe if people don’t know or don’t follow a particular band, that they refrain from righting a review on them or thier albums. . .i’m still laughing about the NIN comparison

        btw. . .i’m in my late 20’s and i am at office typing this so i’m not a 16yr old living in my parent’s basement. . .

Comments are closed.