New York's The Pains of Being Pure at Heart's self-titled debut is out 2/3.
by Thomas Matich
The studio big wigs are remaking Friday The 13th. Rob Zombie did a hack job on Halloween. And now, just in time for that romantic candlelight dinners, bouquet of roses and heart shaped chocolates holiday, there is My Bloody Valentine 3D. A remake of the 1981 cult slasher flick, MBV 3D is being released in an era when the band My Bloody Valentine (whose name was inspired by the original film) have reunited and countless modern bands, from Deerhunter to The Raveonettes to The Magnetic Fields have found inspiration in Kevin Shield's room-spinning, crunchy riffs and other Big '80s distortion drenched pioneers such as Dinosaur Jr., The Jesus and Mary Chain and Cocteau Twins.
It seemed that this trend peaked last year when acts such as No Age, A Place to Bury Strangers and Times New Viking pummeled the pedals with enough haze and overloaded the amps to the smoking point. But here comes The Pains of Being Pure at Heart from the Big Apple. With a M.O. as formulaic as an '80s horror movie, this cutesy quartet appeals to the Urban Outfitters romantic with Loveless lullabies flavored with Breakfast Club pop.
This year's "Kim & Jessie," "Come Saturday" is a sunny summer afternoon anthem for when love is blooming in the air. The track kicks off with some screeching feedback before a rumble of drums catapults it onto the dance floor. "Another sunny day and you're 80 miles away, Tuesday/ but come Saturday/ you'll come to stay/ you'll come to sway in my arms/ who cares if there's a party somewhere/ we'll probably stay in," sings guitarist/vocalist Kip. The boy's crush is away at band camp, so he's probably pumping this in his Walkman while biking to The Sandlot.
What The Pains lack in originality, they make up for with spunk. These are tree house jams that celebrate juice boxes and Cupid's arrow with lyrics that highlight the silly drama of young adults. It's the sexual awakenings while still on a learner's permit, the cafeteria food fights and the pep rallies before the homecoming dance where you might get lucky afterward. Take for instance the album's first single, "Everything With You," and its blushing Brenda Walsh journal entries: "Strange teenager, waiting for death at 19/ are you with me?/ I’m with you and there's nothing left to do/ Tell me it's true." The band shot a music video for the song on Super 8 video, as the camera follows keyboardist/vocalist Peggy and some girlfriend, suggesting that their companionship may have a romantic element.
Mysterious fragments like those is what keep The Pains from drifting into Saw IV territory and doing the My Bloody Valentine shtick to death. Because let's face it, after Friday The 13th: Jason Takes Manhattan, rehashes can get really old after a while. The Pixy Stix strumming on "Young Adult Friction," leads into a splendid story of horny teenagers getting it on at the local library. Young Adult Friction, get it? The lyrics read straight out of a synopsis of an episode of MTV's Undressed: "I never thought I would come of age/ let alone on a moldy page/ you put your back to the spines." That's steamier than you Aunt's romance novels. Plus, one can't help but appreciate the charming wit on the last bridge: "Don't check me out!" In all seriousness, libraries/book stores have the potential to make sparks fly, and I'm just as much of a fan of this song as My Morning Jacket's "The Librarian."
While Bradford Cox might have revamped reverb for today's American Apparel elitists, The Pains exercise a Vampire Weekend catchy-ness and tongue-n-cheek approach ("The Tenure Itch" is about... you guessed it, boning the teacher), cocooning rubbery drums, radiating riffs and gooey gushes into ten sweet songs. The band's bustling energy comes across on the record and the live videos floating around the internet showcase a capable touring act with the chops and passion to pull these tunes off. While The Pains are likely to have most of their comparisons drawn to My Bloody Valentine, the bands lists Nirvana as an influence and I'd throw Wish-era The Cure in there as well - but with both Kurt Cobain and Robert Smith on sugar highs.
The Pains might be riding a rusty bandwagon, but they've brought along plenty of polish. It can't get anymore Beverly Hills, 90210 with song titles such as "A Teenager In Love," and "This Love is Fucking Right." And these tracks will sweep you away faster than Dylan McKay. Just like those Hollywood masterminds who convince audiences to cram into the cinema for the latest blood and guts "revision," these New Yorkers are pros when it comes to making what's old seem new again. //DC//
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart on MySpace.