The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, The Depreciation Guild, The Heartbreaks
Benjamin Thomas 04/12/2009
The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart played a show back in May at a tiny venue by the name of Chorlton Irish Club in this city's southern suburbs. Already it seems to be passing into musical folklore as a moment to recount to your grandchildren in years to come, our generation's equivalent of the Sex Pistols' 1976 breakthrough performance at the Lesser Free Trade Hall in Manchester.
I, unfortunately, was not there. So when the Brooklyn quartet announced their return to my hometown, I was doubly determined to catch them in action. And, even with six months of anticipation weighing heavily upon them, they effortlessly exceed my expectations tonight.
Opening with a song which, depending on your own interpretation, refers lyrically to either incest or lesbianism ('you're my sister /and this love is fucking right') is a brave move. It is followed with a succession of alternative hits, including Come Saturday and Young Adult Friction. These songs serve to confirm that TPOBPAH's self titled debut, alongside The Strokes' Is This It, is set to take its rightful place as one of the records which bookends the definitive sound of the decade.
At this point, an appreciative mention must also be given to tonight's support acts. First on the bill, The Heartbreaks consist of a drummer with a technique can only be described as gymnastic, a bass player whose melodies are unafraid to venture way up the fretboard into Peter Hook territory, a guitarist with a surely ironic Jedwardesque quiff, and a brooding indie pin up vocalist. Their pop 'n' roll tunes are by far more intelligent than the average Kaiser Chiefs anthem.
They're followed swiftly by The Depreciation Guild, two NYC contemporaries of the headliners, who summon a relentless wall of white noise from just a pair of guitars and a Macbook. Their heavy metal Phil Spector aesthetic will be instantly recognisable to fans of My Bloody Valentine and other such shoegazing icons. Their songs are invariably lengthy, monotone and downtempo, yet always engaging.
As attention turns to the main attraction, it's refreshing to behold how the on-stage enthusiasm of TPOBPAH can cause indier-than-thou teen zombies to pogo like punk never passed away. It quickly becomes clear that their appeal is centred firmly upon the introverted charm of frontman Kip Berman. For the first time in over a decade of gig going, I experience for myself one of those moments when it feels as if a singer is addressing me alone amongst an audience of thousands, entrapped in his wide-eyed Bambi gaze. And whilst unafraid to wear their Anglophile influences on their sleeves, with The Smiths and The Cure standing out as obvious musical touchstones, they nevertheless possess a sound that is uniquely their own and perfectly attuned to present day musical trends.
Which, of course, is not to suggest that their relevance and well deserved success will be fleeting. Songs from the recently released Higher Than The Stars EP compare favourably to those from the earlier album, indicating that the best could yet be to come, and their fanbase is still swelling exponentially. Tonight's show is a sweaty, impassioned, once-in-a-lifetime moment, like losing your virginity but altogether more memorable.