[sic] Magazine

EPs tell me now

Pains Of Being Pure At Heart – Higher Than The Stars EP
Label: Fortuna Pop

There’s an argument for tinkering with the same sound until you reach perfection, see Animal Collective. And there’s the flipside, see Axl Rose. NYC’s Pains Of Being Pure At Heart adhere to neither school, and instead, wisely, plump for the if-it-ain’t-broke approach.

The C86, ‘true-indie’ influence is still strong, the early Britpop jangle still present, and thankfully, unlike the LP, nothing sounds like James.

So, it is with open arms, the listener greats afresh the irresistible Stone Roses-like, take-on-the-world optimism of the title track. An enviable wash of fuzz is supplied for the classic-sounding ‘103’, and it recalls every great dance floor you’ve graced. ‘Falling Over’ and ‘Twins’ are welcomed to the nostalgic party unobtrusively. Twelve minutes of smiling indie-pop with a remix of ‘Higher Than The Stars’ to boot – you lucky things.


X Lion Tamer – Neon Hearts EP
Label: 17 Seconds

Neon Hearts EP

Following two, download-only singles (here comprised), Edinburgh’s Tony Taylor presents his debut EP as X Lion Tamer. Pulling no punches with his kitsch, bedroom electro-pop, Neon Hearts encompasses the well known, recalling Pet Shop Boys inherent analogue charm, as well as the more obscure, forging links with Ben Garrett’s recent budget exploits as frYars. It would equally be fair to say that My Computer’s forgotten, knob-twiddling spectre must be nodding along approvingly.

The title track bounces purposefully, before giving way to a simple twinkle. Taylor’s synthesised vocal provides an obvious 80s feel to proceedings, one which the pop-driven songcraft renders more timeless. The darker, but no less likeable ‘Life Support Machine’ follows, before a pensive cover of Galaxie 500’s ‘Tugboat’ adds a notable and enviable exercise in understatement. EP Closer, ‘I Said Stop’ sadly lacks the bite of its predecessors, ironic for a so-called X Lion Tamer. Nevertheless, Neon Hearts as a whole should go a long way to winning Taylor a few to call his own.


The Drums – Summertime EP
Label: Moshi Moshi

Surfs up

Brooklyn’s latest hyped-to-the-hilt darlings arrive on the crest of a wave. A 50s surf-rock wave to be precise, and with all the bells and whistles one might expect. Lots of whistles to be more exact still, which loop around the psyche infectiously after the pop sensation that is ‘Let’s Go Surfing’. Its spectacularly simple hooks played on repeat marry Jonathan Pierce’s rapid-fire croon.

Slow-time rock ‘n’ roller, ‘Down By The Water’, houses an ethereal refrain and echo-y, super-simple synths. Animal Collective’s madcap harmonies are brought to mind on the jerky ‘Saddest Summer’. With cutesy hand-clap percussion, whistling reprises and Ronettes drumming, ‘Make You Mine’ eases the listen into EP highlight, ‘Don’t Be A Jerk, Johnny’. Iconic, female backing vocals and Chairlift-like childish keyboards all build to a devilishly charming track, destined to soundtrack A&R wet dreams for months to come. A spot of new-wave posturing comes to the fore during ‘Submarine’ courtesy of its New Order riffs that add to a washing of ubiquitous fuzz. EP closer, ‘I Felt Stupid’, satisfactorily bridges the gap between the pair.

Summertime is ultimately easy to love, breathless and golden. Whilst alluring now, there is however a certain fragility to The Drums. On ‘Don’t Be A Jerk, Johnny’ Pierce sings, perhaps prophetically, “You used to be so pretty / but now you’re just tragic”. It would be wise to catch Summertime before it is truly over, and some Autumn advertising campaign probably hammers it. Apple? Hands off, this is not your windfall.


Ipso Facto – If … EP
Label: Vinyl Junkie


Japanese technology is streets ahead of ours, and wily as ever, Japan has also led the way with all-girl group Ipso Facto. If … stands testament to their blink-and-you’ve-missed-it career, because since its Japanese-only release in February, Ipso Facto are sadly no more. Samantha Valentine has now become a part of fast risers R O M A N C E, and Rosalie Cunningham may well be considering a return to her former Theoretical Girl guise.

Nevertheless, despite their brevity, the terribly well-spoken stint as Ipso Facto was a worthy one. If … comprises all three singles with a few extras to boot under a single banner of dark-hearted, picture-perfect pop. Goth-lite and style-heavy, these monochrome obsessives combine Blondie’s new-wave posturing with The Organ’s feisty take on British post-punk, and have, sorry had, the tunes to back it up.

Opener, ‘Six And Three Quarters’, is glitter-ball punk-rock punctuated with swirling organ, the mildly unsettling creep of ‘Circle Of Fifths’ is stylish to the point of Karen O’s It’s Blitz. Ears And Eyes appears to have gotten off the train marked “Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me”, before having been mugged on the way home by fellow, scary dark-arts aficionados An Experiment On A Bird In The Air Pump. The demo-quality ‘Balderdash’ and its duelling, high-end guitars, muffled beat and entirely wailed vocal are a fitting flourish on which to draw the curtain.

If you’re only going to make one EP, you better make it a good one, and Ipso Facto treated Japan to a pretty great one.