The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart
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It's not every day one steps straight out of Birmingham's New Street station into the midst of a Deutschland themed beer festival, but that's where DiS finds itself on this balmy June evening. With strawberry and cherry flavoured beers, peach and apricot blended cider and enough globally inspired food to feed an army or five, one could be forgiven for sacking the whole live music malarkey off and taking advantage of the hospitality on offer in the quaint surroundings of Victoria Square.
But then of course that would be so unprofessional, something we wouldn't dream of embarking on here at DiS. And what's more, despite having received only moderate for the so-called difficult (but rather good actually) second album Belong, it would be fair to say that any visit across the Atlantic by The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart causes the odd knee to weaken and heart valve to erupt.
Although perhaps surprising to the band themselves at any rate, that Belong found itself cited as one of 2011's most eagerly anticipated releases is testimony in itself to the unparallelled rise of The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart from zineworld's nest kept secret to (pardon the pun) genuine "contenders". Bearing that in mind, it was always likely that a band who'd never really harboured any ambitions for mainstream appreciation would only disappoint those expecting some kind of OK Computer style epiphany.
DiS arrives just in time to see main support act Fanzine, and while we applaud them on their moniker referencing the broadsheet of many an underground musical movement, their lo-fi slacker schtick is like a can of Dandelion & Burdock. Sweet for the first few mouthfuls, but then sickly and overly familiar by the end, which we barely reach before leaving for a breath or two of fresh air, Digbeth style. File under Yuck, and not the slang expression for disgusting either.
Having spent the past week gallivanting round the UK, packing out venues most nights, it's no surprise their final show on British soil of this jaunt ensures the now familiar "Sold Out" signs once again make an early appearance. Which is just as well because any attempt to squeeze any more bodies in here would surely give the local environmental health authority cause for concern.
Opening with 'Belong' and dispensing with old favourites 'This Love Is Fucking Right' and 'Young Adult Friction' early doors gives way to the sweatiest, friendliest riot of sorts DiS has ever been caught in, while 'Heaven's Gonna Happen Now' and 'The Body' only increase the temperature to sweltering levels that causes a self-induced wet t-shirt competition among friends.
Amiably nervous yet undeniably captivating throughout, Kip Berman is the ideal frontperson for such delicately poised outsider anthems as these, aided and abetted by his perma-smiling accomplices, and while unlikely to ever challenge Bono in the charisma (or should that be annoying?) stakes, it's difficult to imagine anyone else doing this type of thing with such an accomplished level of panache.
As the poignant 'Stay Alive' and ditzy 'Teenager In Love' give way to a fine solo performance of 'Contender' from Berman, it's left to the rallying cry of 'Everything With You' and signature tune 'The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart' to bring this most enjoyable of evenings to a close.
While originality may not be a word many would associate with the Brooklyn quintet, one thing's for certain; whereas past reviews would have likened them to Lazy era My Bloody Valentine or The Field Mice, nowadays many of their contemporaries and peers find themselves compared with The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart. And when all's said and done, there's no finer accolade to bestow on a band than that.
Photo by Scott McKay
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