The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart - Higher Than The Stars

posted 3 Nov 2009, 03:02 by Harry Cooke

[Fortuna POP!]

Released: 9th November 2009

by Pat Lee

The Pains of Being Pure At Heart caused a big spin with their 2009 self titled debut album. People welcomed the return of 80's elcectro-indie pop, holding onto it like it was an important new retro fashion baby, there to grow into something bigger and special.


So the pressure was kind of on for this New York four piece with their second release, Higher Than The Stars. By being clearly so heavily influenced by bands like My Bloody ValentineShop Assistants and Jesus & Mary ChainPOBPAT were now in a tricky position of having to stay true to the huge success of their pastiche music while creating something new, innovative. Something to justify the huge promise they showed on their first album.


One sure fire way to guarantee success with vintage indie-pop lovers is to include a remix of your latest song by Saint Etienne, lo-fi indie champions who have recently released a very successful re-issue of their own. That the Saint Etienne remix is more original, more adaptable in 2009 than the Pains' version of the song is telling of the EP as a whole; and also of huge credit to a band that is still creating slow, melodic avant-garde songs seventeen years after they started.


But therein lies the appeal of POBPAT: in refusing to conform to modern, 21st rules. The songs, like on their debut album, are filled with scuzz, light synths, catchy melodies and if a guitar riff can be catchy and poignant, then some of these certainly are that.


How they've developed? Reassuringly, they've become darker. There was always the worry that the nostalgia packed songs could become annoying, but "Higher Than The Stars" finds the band in a darker mood than we've seen them before. "Shitfaced, fumbling in a dark place/Drinking in the last days/This street looks just like the next street/Bumblefuck on repeat..." I'm not sure what a bumblefuck is, but apparently the song is about "growing up, falling in love with your best friend and the beautiful and terrible consequences of all that".


Despite the mass success of their previous album, they were always going to have to forge more of an identity second time around; and there has been a slight hum of expectation that the identity might just turn out to be really irritating, like a friend you wish you'd never made. Pains of Being Pure At Heart have, however, forged an identity I think we can all live with; a teenage indie pop band, one that make catchy songs and one you wouldn't be too annoyed if you heard your little sister playing in the car.