Belong by Pains of Being Pure at Heart
Everyone is pretty and fun.
Everyone is lovely and young.
Everyone is gentle and gone.
But everyone’s just everyone.
The world would be a better place of these guys changed their name. Usually though, they are able to provide some tasteful and delicate throwback shoegaze type indie pop. “Belong” though is a different creature entirely. Their second album is more of a straightforward wimpy brand of alternative rock. I don’t necessarily mean that in a negative way either. A lot of “Belong” sounds like an updated take on ‘Teenage Fan Club’, which certainly isn’t a bad thing in my book.
Apparently the band teamed up with some big time producers who formerly had worked with The Smashing Pumpkins. On the opening (and title) track, “Belong”, this influence is never more apparent. The static(ky) lulls right before a punch of guitar seems like a page right out of the Pumpkins playbook. When you throw in the soft spoken falsetto verses the resemblence is uncanny, at least right untill the chorus hits, because unlike with the Pumpkins, PoBPaH remains fairly subtle gentle throughout. You could even say it’s lacking a bit in the testosterone department.
The boppy and bass heavy “Heart in You Heartbreak” is a relatively pleasant take on lost love. The song’s predictable pre-chorus dips and border line sappy hook all still maintain a certain grace. I think that PoBPaH’s new found accessibility has largely to do with the fact that the lead vocals are no longer buried under layers of fuzz. Fuzzyness was an effect that never really did much for the Brooklyn based band. It was almost like they were never really edgy enough to hold up to it. Now it seems as if they have a better idea of their strengths and weaknesses.
While I think that “Belong” was Pains of Being Pure At Heart’s most appealing album, I also feel like it kind of lost some steam about halfway through. With the exception of the sparkly “My Terrible Friend” , most of the second half of the record seemed to be less unique than the first. Most of the songs were just missing a certain unknown factor that they needed to be memorable. Even so, “Belong” was a more than satisfactory listening experience that saw a band grow in what I believe to be the right direction.
Belong: 3.5 out of 5