The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart – Higher Than The Stars EP (Fortuna POP!)
November 9th, 2009
Love 'em or hate 'em, and most music fans these days seem to fall into the former category, you have to commend The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart for their prolificness and sense of timing. Within weeks of their self-titled album being demoted to the bargain bins of hipster supermarket Urban Outfitters, they're back with a new EP in advance of their December UK tour.
Higher Than The Stars, the interim sequel to their critically acclaimed and soon to be cult classic debut, shows that they're under the influence of much more than just My Bloody Valentine. In fact, their uptempo pop sound is so unlike Kevin Shields and friends that such shoegazing parallels seem lazy and inaccurate.
So diverse are the four songs featured herein that each is worthy of individual attention. The title track owes much to The Cure's Friday I'm In Love, and is perhaps a tribute to Higher Than The Sun by Primal Scream, a band whose early work springs instantly to mind. It is unexpectedly transformed by a Saint Etienne remix into seven minutes of Balearic disco bliss.
The fuzztone guitar riff of the precious two minute jewel that is 103 alludes to Smashing Pumpkins, a band which TPOBP@H (yeah, lazy, I know) have themselves cited as an influence in interviews.
Falling Over is the most polished song of this set, stripping away the band's trademark layers of feedback to uncover their skilled musicianship in the form of guitar arpeggios and some intricate drum and bass interplay in the rhythm section. However, it is the ramshackle yet anthemic Twins which shares most in common with its siblings from the previously released long player. That, of course, is certainly no bad thing.
Throughout, Kip's lyrics lend a universal appeal as he touches with a sincere sense of angst upon the topics that every teenager once endured, from sexual experimentation via illicit substances to suicide: “# You can make marks with a razor / You can choke out on the bed / But do you feel a sense of failure / When you just can’t end up dead #”. The overall impression is of Nirvana circa 1990, that of a band treasured by their fans for their indie obscurity and enthralled by the influences worn so proudly on their sleeves, but peering into the void of a mainstream breakthrough of their own well deserved making. 2010 will be the year that The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart's success goes interstellar.
words: Benjamin Thomas