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The Daily Tar Heel

Music Review: The Pains of Being Pure at Heart


The Pains of Being Pure at Heart broke out in 2009, its first album wrapped in fuzzy guitar with lyrics that signaled a teenage-centric, heartbreak-soaked foray into the world of indie pop.

On its second full-length album, the band tightens up on songcraft and production, which helps cure the reverb-induced redundancy that afflicted its last record.

Frontman Kip Berman is still preoccupied with love, loneliness and self-doubt.

From Belong’s opener and title track, Berman is already mourning his uncertainty: “I know it is wrong, but we just don’t belong/In their eyes, in the sun, no we just don’t belong.”

On “Heaven’s Gonna Happen Now,” The Pains present the classic motif of the restless youth clamoring to get out of his boring hometown.

Mixed with the young naiveté in “My Terrible Friend,” in which Berman sings, “Everyone is pretty and fun/Everyone is lovely and young,” it’s hard to escape or be put off by the charming, idealistic youthfulness on the album. Although these songs hold the same material as The Pains’ last album, it stills sounds as fresh as it did in 2009.

The band specializes in creating an all-encompassing, atmospheric sound. Dreamy choruses float gently on top of the crashing of drums and reverb-soaked guitar riffs.

This amped-up version of pop is energetic and catchy, but almost too much so — on several occasions, the music seems to drown out the softer vocal harmonies, and Berman’s voice gets lost in the crashing waves of his own compositions.

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart once again manage to stay sweet and innocent without becoming too cloying.

Belong will still hold interest for all the young indie poppers who fell in love with the group from the beginning, and the consistency of its sounds shows that this band has the potential to stay around for a while.

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