The Pains of Being Pure at Heart have long set the benchmark for big-hearted, idealistic pop songs. On their forthcoming self-released LP, they push beyond their many inspirations and embrace their role as indie-pop heroes in their own right. Showcasing the deft, poetic songwriting of front-man Kip Berman, The Pains’ fourth album is their most confident and accomplished. After three critically-acclaimed records, 2009’s The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, 2011’s Belong and 2014’s Days of Abandon received praise from The New York Times, Pitchfork, The Guardian and Rolling Stone, they have put together a collection of songs that possess a timeless grandeur, deeper and more satisfying than anything the band has done since their now iconic debut.
From their earliest days of C86-worship to Alternative Nation-sized anthems to a matured, “Simple and Sure” pop refinement, the new music is what Berman describes as sounding “heavy and hopeful, like love.It’s an album that reflects the band’s most joyous moments while maintaining Berman’s candid and critical lyricism, free of the self-abasing insecurity of youth. “The album is loving. The music is heavier, more expansive,” he says. “To me, songs about love shouldn’t be thought of as light. Love is big – sometimes it’s emphatic, overwhelming or simple – other times it’s tense, anxious or just exhausting. But at its best, it makes you want to be something better.”
In their decade long career, Berman has stood at the center of The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, and with a changing lineup, it’s become more apparent. “On [the last album] Days of Abandon, I was on my own. There was no one in the room making decisions with me. It felt strange experiencing that isolation while trying to make sense of it through writing,” Berman admits. That album was about loss, and I think it conveyed that feeling well – but I’m glad to move on from that place. On this new collection of songs he’s learned to take full agency of something he’s always owned. “With this record, I’ve made peace with the fact I am Pains. It’s always been my band, but I haven’t been super comfortable saying that, partly because I’ve enjoyed working with so many talented friends, and also because the songs I wrote seemed to mean more than anything my actual life could live up to.
Berman enlisted the help of Days of Abandon producer Andy Savours (My Bloody Valentine, The Killers) to help him record a Pains record like none-other. “The logistics of it were so different. When I recorded the record, my wife was six months pregnant. We only had a limited amount of time. There was an absolute uncertainty hanging over our heads, but it was also a kind of escape from worry for that time.” He explains. “What’s going to happen when I have a kid? Am I going to be able to go on tour? Is this the last record I’m going to get to make? It’s not a bad thing to be worried when you’re expecting this huge transition of life. If you didn’t feel scared, you’re probably not feeling the right emotion. I tried to make the best record I could, knowing it might be the last time.”
The Pains and their new album navigate and call attention to variability and safety without unraveling. Berman is no stranger to fragility; here, it’s structured with warmth, the kind found after life-altering moments. The music is augmented by guest vocals from previous Pains collaborators: Jen Goma on vocals (A Sunny Day in Glasgow), bass guitar by Jacob Danish Sloan (Dream Diary), and horns by Kelly Pratt (Beirut, David Byrne, St. Vincent). The Pains of Being Pure at Heart live band consists of long-time guitarist Christoph Hochheim (Ablebody, ex-Depreciation Guild), drummer Chris Schackerman (ex-Mercury Girls, ex-Literature) and vocalist/keyboardist Jess Rojas. The band will tour the UK in late May, returning to New York for Northside Festival in June with more selective dates to be announced shortly.
Since the summer of 2014 and the release of Careers, which Stereogum dubbed an “exceptional shoegaze-pop debut album,” the main driving force behind Beverly has been Drew Citron. While Beverly began as a recording project between two friends, The Blue Swell out May 6th, 2016 on Kanine Records represents a fresh start for the band.
What do you do when your original writing partner up and moves to Los Angeles upon album release? You quickly form a new live touring band. And when you live in Bushwick in 2014 and you build and run indie rock venue Alphaville, that’s easy to do. You even turn your two person project into a full blown rock band with energetic live shows. Then, you tour – across America and Europe – up and down the east coast and add in a few trips to the midwest. All the while, you never stop writing and collaborating.
On The Blue Swell, Citron’s main collaborator is longtime tour mate and noise pop producer Scott Rosenthal (The Beets, Crystal Stilts), with Kip Berman (The Pains of Being Pure at Heart) lending co-writing talents to Victoria. Careers is acclaimed for its “fuzzed distortion and melodic sugar” (Rolling Stone) and its variety, with Pitchfork noting how it “careens from venomous, angry punk to jangly, mild lust to blown-out emotional hangover.” While you’ll still find reverb, catchy hooks and a track or two like Bulldozer or South Collins that could perhaps fit into the debut, the new album takes a less aggressive and more melodic turn.
Ablebody is an LA-based duo comprised of identical twins Christoph and Anton Hochheim (members of The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart + The Depreciation Guild). They’ve been quietly releasing music under this moniker since 2013, self-releasing an EP and 7″ single, crafting remixes and demoing original material as well as a myriad of covers.
Drawing from the raw grandeur of the 60’s, the melodicism of soft 70s pop and the sophisticated side of romantic 80s synth pop, Ablebody stand suspended between decades; students of the past but far from retro fetishists. Their musical prowess is evident but the songwriting remains tastefully direct at all times, with arrangements that bend and move in surprising ways but tastefully blanket the overarching sentiment of the songs in a way that we rarely hear in this decade.
The duo have recently taken their sound from the bedroom to the studio, working with producer/engineer Kenny Gilmore (Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti) to craft songs with a more visceral edge than they’ve explored in the past. Daniel Rosenbaum (Pomar) and Jordan Sabolick (Mt. Ossa) have joined the duo to help bring the songs to life and add new dimension to the live dynamic.
Their debut full length record ‘Adult Contemporaries’ will be released by Lolipop Records onOctober 14.