album reviews

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart
Slumberland Records (2009)

You may want to double-check the date printed on the Pains of Being Pure at Heart's debut album just to confirm that it really did come out this year. Despite its very emo-sounding name, this New York quartet has a sound that's reminiscent of the twee and shoegaze bands of the early 1990s. From that era, local twee/indie-pop band Black Tambourine is an obvious touchstone because of its sonic similarities and airy female vocals, and because both bands are based on Slumberland Records (which began in Washington but has since moved to Oakland, Calif.).

Slumberland isn't the band's only tie to this area; Archie Moore (of Velocity Girl and Black Tambourine) mixed the Pains' album, and his previous bands' sounds are certainly apparent here. But the Pains bear an even stronger resemblance to the shimmering pop of the bands on Sarah Records: The male-female vocals on "Everything With You" and the jangling chords of "A Teenager in Love" both sound like long-lost recordings of the Field Mice. The Pains' music may be a bit derivative, but their ability to capture the dreamy and carefree sounds of the twee-gaze era is nostalgia at its finest.

-- Catherine P. Lewis

.: Originally published: The Washington Post: 6 February 2009, Page WE07
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