Photograph by Annie Powers

Photograph by Annie Powers

True to their name, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart are the free-spirited flower child of indie pop, sure to be found dancing carelessly in a sundress much like your first crush. Instead of picking flowers and sharing lollipops, they have released the follow-up to their eponymous LP released earlier this year. The Pains latest effort, Higher Than the Stars EP, embraces fuzzy guitars, candid exuberance, and yearning lyrics. Slumberland and Fortuna Pop will release the EP on September 22.

Based in New York City, the band has spent the last year dazzling Primavera, shocking South by Southwest, and amazing Pitchfork all while exploring the States, Canada, and the UK. Their shows have drawn comparisons to late nineties shoegaze deity My Blood Valentine and their more recent New York counterparts Crystal Stilts and Vivian Girls. Falsetto synthesizer ballads overlain by Kip Berman and Peggy Wang-East’s vocals make for sweet dreams as they refrain, “I didn’t mean to let you down, and now everything that’s good is gone.” The idyllic melodies on Higher Than the Stars prompt moonlit picnics accompanied with lovelorn bedtime stories sighed by Belle & Sebastian. The quartet’s sound on the EP experiments with a stronger emphasis on synthesizers as if their harmonies were collectively – and appropriately – reaching for the stars.

The title track ‘Higher Than the Stars’ develops lively drumming courtesy of Kurt Feldman with discordant guitar interplay and a keyboard piece that aims for the sky. If the EP is your light-hearted summer love then this track is the first kiss – affectionately planted in the back of your mother’s car. ‘Falling Over’ continues the starry-eyed outlook as the EP allows for a shining distinction amidst Kurt’s playful cymbal clashes and Kip’s sleepy articulation. The blossoming two-tone vocals on ‘Twins’ are akin to Torquil Campbell and Amy Millan of Stars as The Pains seem to entice one another to reach soaring notes. The embracing development of vocals surpasses their previous effort as Higher Than the Stars has moments that audibly encompass an orchestral resonance.

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart – Higher Than the Stars
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart – 103

Higher Than the Stars is pretending you disappear when you shut your eyes and hide underneath a blanket. The technique may be questionable; however, the unshakable faith in delivery makes it difficult to write-off. The Pains of Being Pure at Heart have found their niche in wistful indie-pop confirming that if you keep your eyes closed tightly enough, sometimes your troubles do vanish – if not, just throw on Higher Than the Stars and blissfully disappear with four agonizingly chaste musicians.


— , September 18, 2009    5 Comments

What about the remix Jan? I’ve heard you’re less than impressed.

Daniel, September 21, 2009

I gave Saint Etienne another shot today in class. It’s a worthy remix but I think the original just does a better job. Lo-fi can be a tricky thing to remix, and the dreamy indie-pop produced by The Pains deserves to stay pure and untouched much like the bands demeanour.

Jan, September 22, 2009

Jan, seems like you’re against the concept of remixes in general. I’m definitely with you, I rarely bother with them. I just like this one because Saint Etienne is a cool band in their own right so any new output from them is pretty exciting in my eyes.

Daniel, September 23, 2009

Trashy party music and a good handful of electro and synth makes for great remixes. Remixes are fantastic – Girl Talk, MSTRKRFT, The Bloody Beetroots and Super Mash Bros. can all vouch for that. I think to win me over though you just need to pick your battles carefully – Black Eyed Peas remix, yes please; The Pains of Being Pure at Heart remix, maybe?

— Jan, September 23, 2009

Electro is dead.

Daniel, September 24, 2009