Tuesday, May 13, 2014

REVIEW: The Pains of Being Pure at Heart - Days of Abandon

The path Kip Berman has chosen for his The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart isn't quite a straight line.  The self-titled debut LP arrived in 2009, bearing a rush of sounds, jangling bedroom pop with shoegaze sensibility and palpable immediacy.  Belong, the 2011 follow-up took a step in the alt rock direction.  While not quite leaving shoegaze in the rear view mirror, there was more of Smashing Pumpkins and less jangling guitar pop.  For this year's Days of Abandon, it seems that the band has tacked in a direction that is neither a continuation of the sound of Belong, nor a complete return to the sound of their debut.  The big, chunky alt rock stylings are pared away, but the fuzzy shoegaze is less dominant as well.  To my ears, the overall sound is jangling guitar pop with a deliberately clean production..  Berman has said that he didn't want to make another Belong, but to his credit he also succeed in not replicating the first album.

What deserves to be celebrated is what remains, and that is Berman's skill in shaping a melody and crafting hooks that transform a high percentage of his songs into instant earworms.  He has a keen ear for that "instant classic" sound that makes a new song both attractive and recognizable.  While a couple of his original collaborators, including Peggy Wang (keys and vocals), were not involved in Days of Abandon, Berman has assembled complementary musicians and producers to capture his sound.  For this album, the female vocals (both background and, less often, lead) are provided by Jenn Goma (People Get Ready; formerly A Sunny Day in Glasgow).  And since Goma's delivery has a more mainstream pop flavor as compared to Wang's, it serves as a more distinct counterpoint to Berman's more idiosyncratic and intimate approach.  Days of Abandon is bursting with energy and sunlight, and those are very good ingredients for a pop album.

Jenn Goma's lead vocals --

A live version of "Kelly" --

Days of Abandon is out now via Yebo Music.  By the way, the album art is by South Korean artist Lee Jinju.

Yebo Music

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