The Pains of Being Pure at Heart: 'Days of Abandon'

With a name like that, only exceptional emotions come from the NYC noise-pop group’s new album, Days of Abandon. Read our review below, by Sun Jung.

Kip Berman, has taken a mature shift on his third album, Days of Abandon. Unlike their dazzling, heart-throbbing 2011 Belong, The Pains of Being Pure At Heart’s latest takes us to a tranquil and weightless soundscape where Berman bounces between nostalgia and loss. But now, he has abandoned the juvenile, Romeo hope for love and settled in an enclave between realization and forbearance. 

The first track of the album is a strummed ballad called “Art Smock.” It is a flubbing boilerplate lucidly delineating a loved one who has changed. In an idle, invariant play of guitars, Kip softly bemoans “What you wanted I never knew/I was a mess but so were you.” Although Berman’s signature is his smooth howling voice, the abundance of forgettable pitter-patter in a muffled setting creates a dormant hollering. Placing the weakest moment as the opener, Abandon comes off in a chintzy wrap to its first-time listeners. 

The following song, “Simple and Sure,” does take a notch up with its jaunty traditional-indie ambience. Taking his past yearning for a simple idyllic love, Berman tumbles it down to reality admitting how “It might be easy but I know” feelings can never be black-and-white. But it is Jen Goma’s glacé voice in “Kelly” that atones for the feeble welcome. Superseding their original female singer – Peggy Wang – Goma from the band A Sunny Day in Glasgow, offers a glistening interlude from Berman by taking the lead in “Kelly.” With a hint of bass and torrent of drums, “Kelly” leaves us to marvel at a femme fatale who would bolt to the end of the world where there are no conventions and boundaries. Further in the album, we can find ourselves adrift in another Goma-indulgence in “Life After Life” where she takes us through heartburning breakup in graceful strides.

Most of the time, the souring acceptance of an extinguished romance is what Berman spray paints all over his new works. Anterior to Abandon, the Pains were swooning to illustrate a stargazing romance in the most pristine words. Whereas the iconic sputtering rhapsody is still present, the singer no longer echoes a chimera-bound view but opts for an earthly one comprising of the frailty and confines of human bond. With this new step, he takes the cliché youthful desires and ripens them into relatable sentiments that invite the audience into his insight. 

Pains’ discerning blueprint in the indie-pop genre is their eccentric thump-and-hum match. Since their foundation in 2007, the band has achieved an optimum pairing of Berman’s hushed drone and sturdy background. Layered with percussions and electro flicks, the tunes back down just enough in the precipice to keep the lead singer’s crooning in the summit. Ergo, the Pains suspend us in an airy-fairy orb where we experience a rare hybrid of intensity and ease. Days of Abandon buoys us in a similar cloud, but with more sophisticatedly colored thoughts. 

Unlike his previous records, Berman pushes himself to a riskier, avant-garde stance by venturing out of the romantic and adult-themed territories in “Eurydice.” This myth-racked concision fueled with flabbergasting chorus gifts us a fresh lyrical avenue and subject that we can all enjoy. It is an ever-needed hiatus for music aficionados who live in an overstocked pile of heartwarming/massacring and existentialistic melodies. 

In his latest album, Berman has metamorphosed from a delicately impassioned voice to a prudently reflective one that builds a bona fide sketch of withering emotions. His transition to a more mature ground is still accompanied with traces of old vibe tinged with novel elements that gives a practical panorama of relationships in an exuberant tone. Those seeking to quench their demand for relatable, anti-quixotic ballads, Abandon gives plenty with the right dose of exhilaration and peace to digest. 

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