Tuesday, April 28th, 2009

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart – Young Adult Friction

Going off the band name, what do you think they might sound like? Yes, that’s right…


Jonathan Bradley: As transparent as their Sarah Records costumes are, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart sure know how to put a tune together. This is as uplifting, buoyant and altogether bewitching as, well, those Sarah Records tunes of days past. Over the length of an album such imitation becomes alienating, but at little more than four minutes, it would take a harder heart than mine to deny the demure melodicism on display here.

Alex Macpherson: “Don’t check me out, don’t check me out,” whines our passive-aggressive antihero, having spent three minutes reminding us about some particularly grim, regrettable library sex. OK then!

Keane Tzong: The super-lo-fi jangliness of it all drowns out the pretty amazing lyrics. I mean, it’s a song about fucking in a library, wouldn’t you want people to focus on your wordplay? Luckily, the female vocal in the chorus, and then later again toward the end of the song, makes up for any issues I might have had with the song’s production values. Bonus points for punning “don’t check me out.”

Iain Mew: I’m struggling to think of anything as shoegazey as this that I’ve ever actually disliked. Covering a song in lovely warm fuzz is a very effective way of smoothing over any weaknesses. The flipside is that, if you aren’t careful, it does the same for anything that would make the song stand out in a good way.

Martin Skidmore: “I’m really sorry, guys, but we stopped accepting submissions for C86 quite a long time ago. And in all honesty, do you really think you deserve the slots we gave to the likes of Mighty Mighty or the Close Lobsters?”

Alex Wisgard: The Pains of Being Pure at Heart are far and away the best of the current new wave of hipster-approved indiepop bands coming out of America at the moment because, rather than relying on reverb and a snotty attitude alone (whoever described Vivian Girls as “The Shaggs for the Pitchfork generation” deserves a medal), they just write really wonderful pop music. “Young Adult Friction” employs every twee-ché imagineable – fey boy/girl vocals, relentless jangle’n’fuzz, lyrics about sweets, drugs and libraries – but there’s enough wide-eyed enthusiasm and, most importantly, plenty of tunes back it up, making songs like this more than an obvious xerox of the class of ’86. The Pains of Being Pure at Heart are doing nothing new but, sweet Amelia’s cardigan, are they doing it well.

Michaelangelo Matos: I really didn’t expect to like this so much — I never expect to like rudimentary indie-pop. It’s pretty easy to mock. And then — not always, but often enough, or at least when it’s as enthusiastically splashy as this — I wind up giving in. Or, in this case, just playing it mindlessly over and over again, long past any obligation/need to do so.

Hillary Brown: Jangly, sweet, and tart, like a basket full of kumquats being delivered via pogo stick.

David Raposa: The tune’s got enough pep in its strummy step to keep my interest, while also making me wish more twe(e)rps like POBPAH, past and present, bothered to fill their tanks with hi-grade octane. I’m also digging the anachronistic rinky-dink organ stabs, and the girl vocal accents. But this track really comes into focus for me when the mild-mannered lead singer starts singing, “Don’t check me ow-ah-ow-out,” over and over. What starts off as a coy hard-to-get come-on turns into an infectious rallying cry for introverts and shut-ins that even the coolest of kids can sing along with as well.

Jordan Sargent: “Young Adult Friction” is missing a huge hook, but when you’re trying to recreate ’80s indie rock, atmosphere is almost as important, and TPOBPAH hit that dead on. The guitars have a confident propulsion and that perfectly glistening jangle, resulting in a song that proves that there are still kids who know how to do an homage correctly.

John M. Cunningham: There’s no use denying that the Pains of Being Pure at Heart is derivative as hell, specifically of late ’80s UK jangle-pop and shoegazer bands, but as with the similarly derided Strokes and Interpol, I tend not to mind when the result is so self-assured and, in the case of “Young Adult Friction,” joyful in its primitiveness.

Additional Scores

Martin Kavka: [6]
Ian Mathers: [6]
Alex Ostroff: [6]

11 Responses to “The Pains of Being Pure at Heart – Young Adult Friction”

  1. OMG I am so glad I bothered listening and therefore bringing the score down – how on earth have we ended up with so many pro-twee people on board?!

  2. based upon the amount of people who seem to be in the “didn’t think this was gonna be great, but yup” boat (like myself) i’d say less than you probably think

  3. john hits it right on the head with “self-assured”, it’s really the quality that makes this song standout

  4. I reserve the right to repost (and slightly edit) Lex’s comment when the next Radio Disney smackerel crosses our ears.

  5. They look like an indie kid wank fantasy but they were in no way as bad as I suspected. 6-ish seems about right to me.

  6. David, that’ll probably be Ashley Tisdale’s “It’s Alright, It’s OK,” which is a bit like eating a full pot of imitation honey.

  7. You mean “hunny,” right?

  8. oh bother


    David, the new Tisdale is awful, but it’s not twee. More like her hapless attempt at recent Avril-Pink-Kelly blare.

  10. That was really more of a reference to Pooh Bear than twee. Though Pooh is certainly a twee bastard.

    For those who cannot afford name-brand Hunny, the generic equivalent is just called “GOO!”

  11. Scott Seward on ILM:

    i’m sure they are nice people. or know how to whip up a mean latte or something. i’m just old. i’ve lived thru 15 tweepop revivals. i mean, if i were 15 maybe i would feel differently about groups like this. but i’d still probably have better taste even then, so…