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Friday, 6 November 2009

New Pains - Higher Than The Stars EP REVIEW

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart's latest installment, the Higher Than The Stars EP is an altogether much more electronic affair than anything they've released before (s/t album review from this February) - the overdriven guitars however still pulsate over everything they play, and the vocals are still dubbed down in true shoegazing fashion. Listening to this EP confirms that, despite the changes, it is still very much the same band underneath. The tracks certainly do mark a progression, but whether its a positive one I am unsure.

The lead track from the follow up to February 3rd's Slumberland release, Higher Than The Stars, is probably one of their strongest releases yet, they've dropped any kind of normal guitar work for the track, instead opting for a dreamy, euphoric synths which are closer to M83's Saturdays = Youth in sound than anything from the last Pains album. The 90s influenced pop which their guitars typically drown out are getting even more 90s than before. Twins is a particularly good example. It sounds like Jesus & Mary Chain slowed down, and armed with a few more modern effects. All of the typical traits of the Pains remain throughout this five-track, and there's even a pretty nice ambient remix on the end done by Saint Ettiene Visits Lord Spank, of Higher Than The Stars.

Where my concern lies is with the slower tracks, the fact is that with such simple song structures that their early 90s naivety leads them to play, they have to be very careful not to get too similar sounding or start to rip off their own sound album after album. The simple structures mean that squeezing that last bit of originality out of them gets harder and harder - hence why shoegaze eventually went out of fashion. For the Pains to truly impress, a more decisive change into M83 style shoegaze would have been logical. Altogether though, this is a very nice EP indeed, and if their next full release does end up fully electronic, then even better.

For a band with an obscene amount of haters for the cute and early 90s influenced genre they play, the Pains of Being Pure at Heart do what they do extremely well. They wear their influences on their sleeve - they are in no way trying to subtly rip off My Bloody Valentine or even J&MC as some say. They are having a good time playing the music they love - and are one of the most exciting new emergences of the year that 'newgaze' has seen. I can't wait to hear a new album, and maybe this time when they play near me I won't be too ill to see them.

Pains of Being Pure at Heart on MYSPACE.

Pains of Being Pure at Heart - (Higher Than The Stars) (MP3)

Pains of Being Pure at Heart - Higher Than The Stars (Saint Ettiene Visits Lord Spank Remix) (MP3)

Pains of Being Pure at Heart - 103 (MP3)

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