Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Review: Pains of Being Pure At Heart live at Paradiso

A little treasure is The Pains of Being Pure at Heart's debut album. They're indie-pop New Yorkers who sway from moments of My Bloody Valentine to the early upbeat riffing of Ash or Siamese Dream-era Smashing Pumpkins. Both catchy and naively sexy - kinda like mono - it makes you pine for your youth, especially if you grew up listening to Siamese Dream or Brisbane's Screamfeeder boy-girl harmonies. And if they didn't spell it out with their name, tracks like "Young Adult Friction", "A Teenager in Love" and "This Love is Fucking Right" make it pretty obvious this young band are wearing their indie-hearts on their sleeves, captured it in three-chord pop and harmonies.

But if you grew up listening to Screamfeeder you'll recall both Tim and Kelly had decent voices. These days you can do a lot in the studio with vocal layering but live you're on your own. And with the Internet sweeping kids too quickly from the garage to the main hall of Amsterdam's Paradiso, they haven't a lot of time to refine their chops - let alone let them stew. Accepting success before maturity is just one of the Pains of Being Pure At Heart. Singer Kip Berman (aka Jason Biggs) lacks the vocal umph on stage, crackling on notes as if his 'taco fell in the fryer'. Likewise keyboardist/singer Peggy Wang's voice can't seem to sing through with her Joey Ramone bangs. It's almost charming in that shy teen thing they go for, but a bum note stinks.
Musically though I really enjoy it. I can't stop my left leg from doing that cool, one legged wobble while right leg stays strong. And if my arm isn't around my baby, then as I've seen the kids do, my right hand is on left elbow in front of torso, lost in the moment, head slightly tilted with a sympathetic nod to their pains... and voices.

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