The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart – S/T (Slumberland, 2009)


Nick: the pains of being pure at heart? very philosophical title.

I ehm…hate to say this but listening to this for a while, the only words I can use to describe it is pleasant but ordinary.

they don’t stand out at all.

I’m sure there are hundreds of bands out there who sound like this.

if it came on the radio I probably wouldn’t even notice.

it’s the old story…. it’s all wallpaper, each song is the same as the last in every respect but the melody.

if I was at their gig and I went to the bar for ten minutes and came back it would feel like they were playing the same song.

(track 8 – A Teenager In Love)

as soon as they start into something different, they just jump right back into sameness. it’s as if they got scared.

the drummer is giving himself an easy job isn’t he?

a lot of what you’ve said here is quite similar to what you said about Crumb last September, and both bands are playing, on the surface, the same type of music – classic indiepop.

so I’m nothing if not consistent.

my task is to listen to this music, so my expectations are high, I expect to hear something new and interesting, something that’ll provoke me to say new and interesting things, I expect to be wowed.

there’s a great lack of wow-ness in this thing.

I can’t figure indiepop out. Is it’s job to not stand out? How can it conjure up the cliched images of cardigans and lemonade and so on in something as simple as a chord change? I’m stumped.

Help arrives in the form of Fiachra McCarthy, member of such Irish indiepop institutions as Crumb, House of Mexico & Pantone 247:

”I think Indie pop is genre music, like Metal, everyone has a fair idea what a Metal record is going to sound like, BIG guitars with scooped mid range, bass holding down roots in 16ths and pretty violent lyrics, if it’s speed metal the tempo range with be right up there, if it’s Trash the guitars will be more loose and scuzzy, if it’s Doom the vocals will be well shouty and monster like…. records in this genres do well and our rated on how well they confirm to these stereotypes, the differences are pretty subtle and there’s a pride in being a big enough nerd to spot and appreciate them

Indie pop, IMHO, is very much the same… maybe you have a dead pan vocalist alá Morrisey, maybe you have heavily compressed Rickenbackers like REM, Johnny Mar and Crumb, maybe you stick a load of reverb on the back and it’s Galaxie 500 or MBV… maybe you do a bit of all that with a casio drum beat… but essentially your working off a small pallet like… uh… I’m running out of steam here, does this wash? Indie has sort of become genre music, like metal or Rockabilly, or medieval battle recreation, it can be more about the attention to detail and nerdy reference points then anything else

I feel I am being a bit down on Indie though (and metal) (and medieval recreation), the reason people love it is generally the strong melodies, fey lyrics that generally deal with alienation  in a very straight forward heart on sleeve manner… I suppose people reach for the touch stones or Rickenbackers, converse runners to prove their authentic, like Alt Country acts reach for the pedal steel, when they really really mean, this is ‘real’ and requires no complex drum patterns or studio innovations to cloud the issues. And we know that cause we hear the jangle of guitars, the tambourine on the back beat and aching paean of dead pan vocals”


7 responses to “The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart – S/T (Slumberland, 2009)

  1. I’m never gonna listen to indie pop again. Thanks, guys.

  2. reach for the pedal steel, punk!

  3. Wow, this is Nick Thinks Deluxe!
    I think I agree with parts of what both Nick Thinks and Fiachra McCarthy say.
    Specifically, the point about latterday indie pop being “more about the attention to detail and nerdy reference points then anything else” rings true. I think you can apply it across a lot of rock genres. It is nice and comforting to hear good melodies dished out in a style that remind you strongly of one or other band from years ago, but what else? This game of good references is probably very redundant, but I see it in almost every cool band going. What ad for a gig by one of the hip promoters in Dublin doesn’t descend into a list of luminaries so-and-so have played with or know or sound like? Maybe that’s what indie music is all about.

  4. Oh, I really like this album, by the way.

  5. The album cover reminds me of a Belle And Sebastian album cover. And the music does too (a faster fuzzier BAS). I agree with Nick here that it is pleasant to listen too, although it plays out safe and samey.

  6. that’s a great description of indie-pop.

    it’s just another genre I guess.

  7. there is too much self-aware attention to the tiny details of C86 music with these guys… Nick’s right about it being wallpaper. Thing is the pattern on the wallpaper is so carefully selected, it’s like a pastiche.

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