Pains of Being Pure at Heart
If indie rock ends up catalogued and canonized in the conservatory, the Pains of Being Pure at Heart will be a survey-course staple. This New York quintet—named for a children’s story by a friend of front man Kip Berman—perfectly encapsulates the genre’s neoclassical wing. While Best Coast looks to the '60s and Free Energy the '70s, the Pains zero in on the late '80s and early '90s, turning out lovelorn songs that hit you hard with a wave of retro bliss.
It’s a dreamy, noise-swathed sound that recalls the catalogs of boutique labels like Slumberland Records. Whether or not you came of age during the heyday of twee, Pains’ early output sounds instantly nostalgic. Songs like 2009's "Young Adult Friction," in which boy-girl vocalists Berman and Peggy Wang lament a doomed love consummated "between the stacks in the library," bring post-adolescent heartbreak into remarkably vivid focus. It's only fitting that the Pains' debut full-length found a home on Slumberland—the happy ending to an indie-rock fairy tale.
While many of the band's influences never made it beyond the 7" stage, the Pains of Being Pure At Heart has steadily worked its way onto the broader pop-cultural radar since debuting at Wang's 24th birthday party in 2007. With the release of its sophomore LP, Belong, the outfit has graduated from Last Call with Carson Daly to Late Show with David Letterman, swapped South by Southwest for Coachella, and traded homegrown recordings for a collaboration with Flood, an alt-rock super-producer who’s worked with Nine Inch Nails, the Smashing Pumpkins, and U2. But as you can tell from Belong's hard-edged yet exquisitely wistful lead single "Heart in Your Heartbreak," the Pains of Being Pure at Heart is in no hurry to outpace its DIY roots. Chances are, this band will always conjure memories of that indie-rock mixtape your tenth-grade crush crafted just for you.
Kalaakaar Ki Jaankaari
Kip Berman, Peggy Wang, Alex Naidus, Kurt Feldman, Christoph Hochheim
Collective Sounds, Slumberland, PIAS, Fortuna Pop