Pains of Being Pure At Heart – Days of Abandon


Pains of Being Pure At Heart has always been an academic endeavour on frontman Kip Berman’s part: Whether dabbling with scintillating jangle-pop on his self-titled debut or fuzzed-out Siamese Dream -ing on its followup Belong Berman’s music always felt like indie-rock dorks dorking it out over a particular era subgenre or label. Days of Abandon for its part still feels studious (former Fast Forward Weekly contrib Jesse Locke immediately compared it to the Britpop of Prefab Sprout) but there’s also palpable growth for the Brookyln quintet — Days expands Pains’ sonic arsenal tenfold and as a result the quintet exhibits a range they’ve never had previously. And shit is it ever addictive.

The biggest weapon in Pains’ sweater-vested arsenal though is still Berman’s ability to turn fey delicate melodies into larger-than-life earworms. With crystal-clear production Abandon lets those melodies shine and they’re splayed across dear-diary acoustic tracks (“Art Smock”) Cure-esque mall goth anthems (“Until the Sun Explodes”) and impossibly fragile whisper-ballads (“Coral and Gold”). And when A Sunny Day in Glasgow’s Jen Goma takes over lead vocal duties (on “Kelly” and the horn-kissed “Life After Life”) Pains almost sound like a different band entirely — until you realize that she’s singing one of Berman’s distinctive vocal melodies.

Berman’s called Days of Abandon a chance for Pains to explore uncharted territories and he’s largely right. But its best track — one of the finest of Berman’s career and of the year — firmly tethers Pains to their tried-and-tested aesthetic: Lead single “Simple And Sure” all breathy backups rolling drum fills and synthetic handclaps reminds us that Pains aren’t just a good band. They’re a perfect band who are in the business of perfecting perfection. And Days of Abandon is nothing short of perfect.