Top positive review
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Heading For The Top Of The Pile
on 28 March 2011
'Belong' is a superlative second-showing from New York band
The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart. Their 2009 eponymous debut
was a rough and ready but engaging affair which flew somewhat
low under the radar on our shores and disappeared almost without
trace into that place where worthy but underexposed art goes.
The new album is served well by producers Flood and Alan Moulder
who know a thing or three about how to build a big, buxom sound.
There are ten tracks in the set and collectively they pack a
phenomenal punch. The dense and occasionally dreamy quality of the
band's muse is pretty much intact but some of the new songs
have sharper edges and more immediate impact than of yore.
'Heart In Your Heartbreak' is an especially good example of their
refined melodic and rhythmic self-confidence. There's something
of The Psychedelic Furs 1984 'Mirror Moves' era about it which
I find curiously stirring. (I can be a bit moist-eyed and sentimental
when remembering The Furs - I am an old softy despite my hairy heart!)
Singer Kip Berman has a strangely affecting voice. Despite its limited
range and prominant sibilants it stands up to the task very well.
There's a lot going on in these arrangements. Strong melodies and
harmonies abound; dense ringing chords weave a rich tapestry of sound
and drummer Kurt Feldman deserves a special mention for his forthright
skill in keeping the whole big grinding machine anchored to the rails.
There are some great tunes here. 'Even In Dreams' is a real cracker!
It's got the kind of uplifting chorus which comes along once in a
while and sweeps you away (hands in the air!) with its joyous energy.
'My Terrible Friend', too, romps along like a happy dog with a big bone!
'Too Tough', however, gets my vote for top track. The contrast between
Mr Berman's fragile and vulnerable vocal performance and the band's
widescreen multi-coloured sonic enslaught is truly exhilarating!
For my money The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart have delivered a real
gift to the listening world. One of the very finest so-far this year.