Editors' pick

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart


Editorial Review


It takes all of 13 seconds into "Belong," the opening track on the second album by the Pains of Being Pure at Heart, for the band's newly grand ambitions to become clear. At that moment the gently twinkling guitars morph into a massive swell of distortion, and notice has been served - this band has grown up.

And by just the right amount, too. The Brooklyn quartet became indie pop darlings with a 2009 debut that jingled, jangled and cribbed all the best notes from twee favorites of the past few decades and was delivered with doe-eyed delight. That sense of innocence remains on "Belong," serving as a charming contrast to the newly beefed-up aesthetic. Even as guitars and keyboards surge, singer Kip Berman remains as hopelessly romantic as ever. "When you came / Through the door / I was sure / You never even felt the floor," he offers in a wispy coo on the title track.

The direct sentiments match the straightforward songwriting. Fuzz and reverb are never used as a shield; instead of retreating into itself, the band embraces a more expansive sound and steps up its songwriting game to match. "The Body" glides on an arena-ready synth line that recalls New Order at its most anthemic, while the chugging chorus of "Heart in Your Heartbreak" is the stickiest moment in the band's catalogue to date. It all sounds as sweet as ever but with a sturdiness that offers more to grab hold of.

- David Malitz, April 2011