[sic] Magazine

The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart – Days Of Abandon

Kip Berman and his open-door Pains Of Being Pure At Heart project have been bottling full-fat nostalgia and flogging it on to the thirsty for five years now. Their impressively fuzzy, twee-pop debut still sounds at good as it would if it had genuinely been released in 80s, while its successor, Belong, traded some of its charm for relatively beefy guitar action. So to Days Of Abandon, which doesn’t stray far from a successful template, though its increased synth palette and sickeningly clean complexion does further push the band into a sugary niche.

New singer Jen Goma of A Sunny Day in Glasgow takes some getting used to too. She takes the lead on “Kelly” for example – a trademark jangle somewhere between The Smiths and The Cure – and … there’s a problem. Indie-pop should be smart and sassy but, simply, this is bland. The summery single, “Simple And Sure”, despite its joyous handclaps and Dirty Projectors-style female backing vocals, feels inconsequential too. Sure, the band have always been lightweight but rarely as unfocused. Happily the experiment does work much better on “Eurydice” however, Goma providing a much needed dose of urgency during the track’s grandiose, Arcade Fire-style chorus and climax.

In spite of his on-going search Berman’s strong melodies are yet to find a better bedfellow than shoegaze and so it again proves on “Until The Sun Explodes”, marauding noise and sweet indie-pop colliding to form a dizzying thing of beauty. Blossoming into one of those Slowdive daydreams most of the melancholy “Beautiful You” is lovely for the same reason. If only all of Days Of Abandon were this effective, but for every buoyant, skittering guitar line you get an overly delicate, downright wet contribution such as Berman’s annoying vocal on “Masokissed”. The irony is of course that for a band that practically defines nostalgia all these moments do is make you pine for another “103” or “Higher Than The Stars”.

Best tracks: “Eurydice” and “Until The Sun Explodes”.

~Days Of Abandon is released June 2nd 2014 via Fierce Panda.~