The Pains of Being Pure at Heart - The Pains of Being Pure at Heart

Miss Fliss 26/01/2009

Rating: 4/5

There's something to be said for short and sweet albums. At 35 minutes - a level which a nascent Cure favoured - The Pains of Being Pure at Heart have got a fine eponymous debut album nailed.

Those who missed out on capering about sticky indie disco floors in the cardigan-flaunting fey 80s can currently enjoy a resurgence, with The Pains of Being Pure at Heart as part of the charge. Back then, 'indie' was for outsiders and was shorthand for 'awkward', 'shy', 'geeky', in the Morrisseyan sense of not being able to get a girlfriend, and dressing like a librarian was for the dejected, whereas now indie - the uncool - has become cool, and dressing twee and shy has become quite a fashion and cause for celebration.

But this isn't about cutesy hairclips, a token Pastels badge, and sherbet dib-dab. There's a real driving force behind The Pains' music that goes beyond notions of twee. The drums thunder along with the freneticism of The Wedding Present (whom The Pains supported on tour recently, to the envy of all their friends back home in Brooklyn), and the band are a real robust live act, worshipping at the helm of My Bloody Valentine rather than Talulah Gosh. Twinkles of Just Like Heaven era Cure keyboards ice layers of buzz saw guitar in an at odds perfect blend not seen since 90s shoe gaze band Lush.

There are shoe gaze daydreams that swirl and glide/grind along (Stay Alive, and last year's single Come Saturday) and heavenly pop anthems such as the giddily delicious (my favourite - also the jangliest formation here). It's all rather sweet - albeit bittersweet. Song titles recall Sarah Records bands' efforts in their lovelorn or celebratory tone - Contender, This Love is Fucking Right!, and The Tenure Itch, and I think of The Field Mice in particular fondly - but there's more kick and spike to the music of The Pains, and less of the soppy sensitive and sinewy self-pity.

I must say, it's a shame that the album closes with a song that raids the top drawer of The Jesus and Mary Chain's unlocked treasure chest, it's a 3/1 drumbeat that's become hackneyed amidst C86 revivalists and just too obvious a steal (do some of these bands not listen to any other albums?). But as the last guitar howls into a feedback screaming scree, the album comes to a stop with the perfect finality, and it all felt like - if not a first rate debut album - a cracking, smart exemplar of achingly pretty things to come from The Pains of Being Pure at Heart.

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart is released on 9th February, 2009.