The Pains of Being Pure at Heart | Belong (Slumberland Records)

There are plenty of catchy melodies to be found here, a wealth of warm analog-sounding synths, and solid production courtesy of Flood and Alan Moulder.




With just a little bit of static and fuzz and then a chiming melody, we are pulled into Belong, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart’s sophomore effort. This motif—fuzz and chime—seems to be their go-to sonic pairing and it’s one that they nail quite well.

This is a band that has been welcomed and embraced by the contemporary indie scene. While there is plenty of twee to their sound, there is also an ample amount of aggression reminiscent of the Smashing Pumpkins, Placebo, and The Jesus and Mary Chain.

Hailing from New York, TPOBPAO first hit the scene with their 2007 self-titled debut. Music blogs and independent radio stations started the spark and word-of-mouth quickly spread the fire about this noise-pop quartet. They have returned with their second effort, which has been well received by critics. It’s rather easy to see why.

Title track “Belong” opens with the noisy jangle that carries much of this album (as well as its predecessor). “Heaven’s Gonna Happen Now” follows and channels a little bit of Echo and the Bunnymen’s sound.

The first single from Belong, “Heart in your Heart Break,” has been popping up frequently on satellite radio and Internet playlists since its release. It’s a catchy pop tune that has that annoying tendency to get stuck in your head. “She was the heart in your heart break/ the miss in your mistake/ And no matter what you take/ you’re never going to forget,” sings front man Kip Berman on the song’s chorus.

Belong might not be far off from the band’s debut style, but it does show growth in their songwriting depth. There are plenty of catchy melodies to be found here, a wealth of warm analog-sounding synths, and solid production courtesy of Flood and Alan Moulder (NIN, Smashing Pumpkins, Depeche Mode, U2, etc.). The producers brought out the intricacies of the band’s sound and gave the record a deeply textured feel. There are plenty of cool elements lurking beneath the surface melodies that add plenty of replay value.

The rich arrangement and danceable beat of “The Body” is sure to get crowds moving at their live shows, while “Anne With an E” has a somewhat somber and introspective feel. “Even in Dreams” is one of the more straightforward pop-rock songs on the record with a heavily reverb-decorated chorus reminiscent of My Bloody Valentine. Invoking much of the sounds of early efforts by The Cure, “My Terrible Friend” displays charisma and charm beneath the playful synths and driving bass line.

All together, this is an excellent album that provides an enjoyable listen. The aggression is refreshing while the jangly guitar melodies are pleasing to the ear, providing the best of both worlds. There are many good hooks to be found here and enough sonic variety to keep you listening.

“Girl of 1,000 Dreams” is a pure homage to The Jesus and Mary Chain, and a fine one at that. Feedback and reverb dominate the mix and the vocal line channels much of Jim Reid. “Too Tough,” slows things back down with a head-nodding rhythm and the album-closer, “Strange,” is a warm, lush track that is full of visceral atmospherics.

Fans of shoe gaze and heavier alternative rock will feel at home with this album. It’s a solid listen all around and brings plenty of interesting musical ideas to the table. It’s soothing, noisy, and pleasant all at once. B+ | Christopher Sewell



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