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AAA Music | 26 September 2020

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The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart – Say No To Love

| On 05, Jul 2010

If anyone was to ever ask me what dreampop is, I would previously have shown them that Medicine track that was in The Crow. However, that honour has now been replaced by another two tracks: the latest single release from New York indie-pop outfit The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, which is incidentally possibly one of the most unwieldy names you could ever invent.

Starting with a dreamy intro, ‘Say No To Love’ is a whimsical little thing reminiscent of The Smiths or perhaps The Cure at their poppiest, combined with saccharine Jesus & Mary Chain-esque vocals, and rhythms you can happily bob along to. The melody comes in two flavours: the soft and ethereal one that appears first and sounds like it filtered from an alternate dimension of soft-focus photographs and twee glasses/cardigan combinations, and the chord-driven guitar rattling through a fair amount of effects. The bridge is a satisfying little piece of work too, with cheerful drumming and a nice riff, but sometimes the mixing feels a little uneven and off-kilter, which things that should be forwards placed back and vice-versa, which is a shame as this song is a charming four minutes.

The b-side, ‘Lost Saint’, has a more immediate kick to it, with a fuller sound with treacle-thick bass contrasted with glacial synths that harmonise with the vocals, and the mixing job here feels more complete. Everything comes at the listener with an echo tiptoeing along behind, and while this is initially pretty, the whole effect can get disorientating.

It is very easy to link this band to their likely influences, and so to say they are slightly derivative would be an understatement, but in the end, to be a poor man’s (or indeed poor New York student’s) Jesus & Mary Chain still means that you are being compared to The Jesus & Mary Chain, and that is far from shameful. An embryo of something good is here, but it is still contained within the womb of ‘Darklands’ and floating in passive pop.

If you want something warm-hearted and soothing to lie down to on a summer day, you couldn’t go wrong with this, but I can’t help but feel like I’m being led down well-trodden ground here, and that perhaps listening to ‘April Sky’ twice would have sufficed just as well.

Author: Katie H-Halinski