Song 322: The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, “Belong” (2011)

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Is there a worse band name than The Pains of Being Pure at Heart? “What about the Strawberry Alarm Clock?” you might say. Or, “Have you not heard of a band called Staind? Limp Bizkit?” Nope, nope, nope. The Pains of Goddamn Being Fucking Pure at Heart tops them all in its pure preciousness. Gross.

And yet they make music that I love. The band specializes in indie pop from years past; their self-titled debut was a Cure/Smiths workout that provided the best jangle pop since 1986. Their second album, Belong, was something else entirely. Though the band’s pop hooks were present and accounted for, the jangle had been replaced by heaviness.

“Belong,” the record’s first track, is cheeky in its misdirection: in its first few seconds, some high guitar notes sound like the band’s first record, and then comes the roar. I love that entrance, and I love the fact that it sounds like a blatant Siamese Dream rip-off. The sound, surprisingly, perfectly fits a band formerly preoccupied with sounding light and dreamy. The dreaminess is still there—the vocals are light and hushed, and that high guitar stays the course—but make no mistake, “Belong” is pure weight. “We just don’t belong,” sings Kip Berman, as anger (or is it very confident contentment?) roils below. This is the sound of a band maturing. I can’t wait for what they do next. (Let’s hope they start with that name.)

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