It's probably wrong to be so enamored with a band but The Pains of Being Pure at Heart have had, in this reviewer's estimation, the best album of the year with each of their first two records (their self-titled debut and Belong). Less than half way through 2014, they are odds-on favorite to three-peat (sorry, Pat Riley).
Days of Abandon opens with, of all things, an acoustic guitar strumming on “Art Smock”. Kip Berman still sings in his hushed tones, pleasantly accompanied by female backing vocals. This is merely the intro, the appeteaser, if you will. “Simple and Sure” transports the listener back twenty or so years. The guitars with their My Bloody Valentine-y glory, sans the distortion and feedback. Berman steps aside as Jen Goma (from A Sunny Day in Glasgow) assumes the lead vocal on “Kelly”. She definitely has a different style as her singing is more forceful, not forced, but still oh so sweet.
“Beautiful You” keeps the parade of potential hits marching on. A little bit of overdrive sneaks in behind the jangle and keyboard, creating a warm sonic wave tunnel that invites you to sail down. Once inside, “Coral and Gold” alternately calms and excites. No better reason can be made than “Eurydice” for bringing back American Bandstand. It's really easy to imagine a Saturday afternoon where throngs of young people lose their minds on dance floors and in their living rooms while contorting themselves into blissful oblivion to the song.
No title sums up this band like their song “Masokissed”. You should feel guilty, perhaps even a little bit ashamed, for liking music that's quite so poppy but it's just so saccharine to taste that you can't resist its undeniable allure. While songs like “The Asp In My Chest” slow things down, add additional, unfamiliar instrumentation, and give us a slightly different side to the band, let's face it, POBPAH aren't reinventing the wheel. What the band does is make pretty pop songs that can be often irresistible across multiple age and gender demographics. It's not a mindlessly manufactured, homogenized, processed Velvetta of a musical product. However, it's just as smooth but without the regret.
Days of Abandon will be available for purchase from Yebo Music on May 13.