Record of the Week
The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart – S/T
“Painless, Heartfelt Pop”
Pains (as I’ll call them from now on) love nostalgia. So much so that they appear not to have heard a record made after 1995, except perhaps for relistening to the re-released Shop Assistants album, originally from 1986. Such is their devotion to that year that one of the Shop Assistants, who featured on the NME’s influential C86 cassette, went onto form The Pastels, with whom comparison can surely be made.
The fuzzy indie-pop on offer nestles comfortably with latter day artists Crystal Stilts and Manhattan Love Suicides in nostalgia, having absorbed the sort of jangly, smily, inoffensive indie qualities of, say, Belle & Sebastian on the way. ‘Contender’ buzzes along like a missing ‘Lost In Translation’ soundtrack number, all gentle fuzz and simple acoustic jangle. Early My Bloody Valentine and Jesus & Mary Chain influences reverb happily throughout.
‘Young Adult Friction’ and ‘Gentle Sons’ would play unnoticed between Stone Roses and Smiths records at any indie night club, unobtrusive in an entirely great way, the driving drums in the latter monumentally borrowed from the former of these artists. The drawback to this record is that it not only sounds like 1986 all over again, it also sounds a bit like the early 90s, the bits that didn’t sound like Nirvana, and did sound a bit like the beginnings of Britpop. Hence, ‘Come Saturday’ sounds a little too close to the Lightening Seeds, ‘Stay Alive’ a little closer to James.
That said, this should not put the listener off, as, despite Pains’ unfortunate A-Level, poetry-club moniker and at-times-questionable sound, this harmless but effective pop record will warm the purest of hearts.
Animal Collective – Merriweather Post Pavilion
Questions have been raised over the accessibility of this album but suffice it to say that Animal Collective fans will find this their most welcoming album to date. Their signature, psychedelic swoon is better honed on this album than ever before; their joyous brand of esoteric quasi-attainability is not easy to penetrate but worth the wait.
‘Summertime Clothes’ is a close to pop as Animal Collective have come, opening with Battles-like waves of nauseous squelching and like Battles’ opus ‘Atlas’, this track also comes replete with bubbling vocals, seemingly recorded underwater. The dancing, swirling, synthesised samples twinkle like deserved handclaps around this moment of catchy beauty.
‘Bluish’ is more of a restrained, comprehensible affair recalling the work of Mercury Rev circa ‘Deserter’s Songs’, but with a much larger vision for production. Album closer ‘Brother Sport’ is unsure what it wishes to be, part Paul Simon bandwagon, and part calypso freak-out: the sort of thing that Beetlejuice may play to get himself in the mood.
This, like previous efforts, is thus an experimental album and one that converts will like or love, despite the flirting, near-conversion to alt. pop. ‘Lion In A Coma’ hints at dreamy, Deerhunter-like soundscapes, garbled layering notwithstanding. The vocals across the album have been used as an extra instrument, carrying rhythm rather than meaning and this complexity of production may leave come-latelies a little dry, unsure what to make of the more mute moments, which, in truth, pale only in comparison to dizzyingly-high highlights such as ‘Summertime Clothes’.
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