New York-based indie pop band, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart really jumped onto people’s radars in 2009 with their self-titled debut album. Pitchfork gave the album an 8.4/10 and called the album “slyly confident” and said it mixed “sparkling melodies with an undercurrent of sad bastard mopery.” With that kind of rave review, I wondered if The Pains of Being Pure at Heart would suffer a sophomore slump with Belong or somehow surpass their debut album.
The truth is Belong does not surpass their debut but it is not exactly a sophomore slump either. The band instead seems to be content operating in basically the same space as their debut without really expanding their sound. The My Bloody Valentine-esque wall-of-sound is still ever present as well as the nu gaze-style vocals sung with little enthusiasm or oomph. Unfortunately, their sound is so consistent that the album tends to bleed together into one long 40 minute song.
The band’s subject matter has remained fairly stagnant as well. I listen to the album’s closing song, “Strange” and the song is kicked off by the lyrics “when everyone was doing drugs/we just doing love.” The lyrics obviously play into the band’s cutesy image but there aren’t a whole lot of bands that can operate without singing about some subject matter with some urgency.
Despite a little bit of a negative tone I have taken in this review, I do not hate the album; I just do not feel like Belong propels The Pains of Being Pure at Heart forward. For fans of the self-titled album, this album should satisfy the hunger for new music but it is a very safe move for the band.