I wrote at length recently on The Pains of Being Pure at Heart’s fantastic debut for Cokemachineglow, so rather than try to outdo myself, an excerpt:
Given enough time, and bands, every genre expands and stretches to the point of faceless variegation. That new musicians still describe themselves as alternative rock seems like a bad joke (or worse, further donations toward the Billy Corgan Continuing Relevance Fund)—and indie rock, for better or worse, is likely heading in the same direction. Indie pop, or twee, had such identity issues from the start: the U.K. scene codified by the NME’s 1986 C86 tape and labels such as Sarah Records in the ’80s was, sonically, a largely different animal than its early ’90s American cousin, which centered on noisier recordings and a less aloof approach. A decade or so later, extending the genre from the Field Mice to Belle & Sebastian to, well, Los Campesinos! makes for a knotty family tree. MP3s after the jump…
Yet it’s the shared influence of this muddied bloodline that makes the Pains of Being Pure at Heart’s debut album so definitively indie pop—it’s an album that could be called little else. And though it carries the domestic cred of a release on Slumberland Records—the newly resurgent Northern California label whose lofty, four-tracked catalog includes seminal releases by Velocity Girl, the Softies, and Rocketship—the band cribs plenty from its foreign forebears as well. With a voice that instantly recalls the Field Mices’ Robert Wratten, frontman Kip Berman sings with a detached, affected British accent that oozes calm and cool even as treble-heavy guitar chords jangle nervously, relentlessly, underneath him. (And of course as he sings about the trademark Euro-twee topics of books, film, wasted summers, and third-person teenage love—but not his own).
The rest of the review is over on CMG and MP3s are right here.
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