The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart - The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart (2009)
The first notes I took while listening to The Pains of Being Pure At Heart's self-titled debut album are just the words "explodes nicely." On subsequent listens that statement really rings true for the whole album. I don't mean to imply that each song gets loud in a Megadeth sort of way but more that each song has certain characteristics that don't just become head-bopping rock n' roll music for the teen crowd, but they all have these subtle explosions of instruments and voices throughout each song that sounds quite nice. Quite nice indeed.
But it's more than just a nice explosion that makes TPOBPAH (easiest abbreviation since The Presidents of the United States of America) a great start to a good band, it's their unique sound. It's easy to classify as indie rock I suppose, but that's a bit of an understatement. It's not really Rock either, and even has elements of pop in it (just listen to lead track "Contender" and tell me it doesn't sound like it could be in the top 40 (well, a good top 40)), but their sing-songy rock style is admirable. Each song has these minor explosions of music that set one apart from the other, but none jar the listener, they are just their style. This sounds vague, but trust me, listen to the album and it will be there.
One of my nitpicks I have about a lot of albums is that they just get boring after a while. It seems to be the common theme that even good bands and good albums have. That's not to say that the songs are bad, but it often seems like the band/artist have run out of ideas at a certain point and are having a hard time executing new original material near the album's end. TPOBPAH is one album that avoids this problem. Never do any of the songs slow down to the point of being boring or repetitive, but instead remain steadfast. Listen to "Young Adult Friction" with its great breakdown in the middle and you'll see what I mean.
The band sounds like they're from another era entirely. It's modern I guess, but they combine multiple genres of the last couple decades it's hard to classify, and that's a good thing. They have the best of the 80's fuzz guitar going for them, the laid-back singing of the best 90's indie bands, and lyrics of the best 70's pop. "Everything With You" is one of the best songs of the year, with beautiful lyrics detailing the greatest of relationships when one can do everything and nothing exciting with someone and still be happy. That song alone sums up what The Pains of Being Pure at Heart are all about.
Standout Track: "Everything With You"
Overall Rating: 8.7
Some Trivia For People:
* Band name comes from unfinished children's story that friend of the singer Kip Berman wrote.
* The moral of said story was that the time and adventures one has with one's friends when young is the most important thing in the world, which the band found fitting for their outlook on life too.
* Kip says that "Contender" is about himself being a loser, seeing a band like Exploding Hearts while working at a call center and feeling like he'll never make anything of himself.
* The songs have characters, but none are fictional nor non-fiction. Most are based on the band's own adventures in life, but none are completely fabricated either.