Shoegazing seems to be a popular target to get a listener's head to nod side to side, a hand to strum the air guitar strapped around their neck, or a foot to tap until the bone begins to chisel. This is the style that has branded artists like Smashing Pumpkins and My Bloody Valentine, and it has now branded New York City's The Pains of Being Pure At Heart. This is not one of your run-of-the-mill-type brands, however - this is one of the good ones.
I don't know if it's the 90's nostalgia that's hitting me or the incessant need to turn my volume up to 10, but there's a reason why shoegaze works so well. The frequent use of flange to appropriate the longing distance between chords and the respective lyrical content make the music soar high and above, even if it does tend to meander. Luckily, The Pains don't make Belong a repetitive affair - this is just delightful.
The starting title track and the song "Too Tough" are perfect examples of the genre, cranking the flanging guitars and low-vibe harmonics to match the vocalist's subtle and chilled tone. Any of the two bands mentioned in the above paragraph could have easily turned these tunes into hits of their own, and it helps that these two tracks help to open and close the album, respectively. Tracks like "The Body" and "My Terrible Friend" continue the trend, albeit much more upbeat and producing bass similar to that of 80's synth-pop. The other six tracks remain consistently and surprisingly vibrant and nourished, keeping a balance of both rhythm and beat that's scattered nicely throughout the album.
These ten tracks are pure shoegazing, and that's a stellar choice. Sure, it's easy to write off Belong as a close repeat performance of big bands prior, but The Pains aren't making music for comparisons. Quite frankly, they're making music to add to the dimensions that shoegazing offers in the first place.
The Pains of Being Pure At Heart - Belong
The Pains of Being Pure At Heart - Too Tough
Belong is available on Slumberland Records on March 29th.