The Pains of Being Pure At Heart - Belong

Is it something they teach you at Writing About Rock & Pop School? Like some kind of journalistic bedside manner, where they impart the skills necessary to break it gently to the expectant: the band you like today will almost certainly let you down tomorrow. A truth that has echoed through the halls and corridors of popland since time immemorial. Make sure you treasure the good ones, because just about everyone else will suck given time.

We liked the debut album from The Pains of Being Pure at Heart. It wasn't life-changing or anything particularly lofty, but it's still on the MP3 player and gets irregular plays. That's more than most. At face value, its unpretentious early Primal Scream-isms were pink lemonade on an overcast Tuesday. But boy does this one go Soup Dragons south faster than you can say Second Coming.

It's not immediately obvious why things go pear-shaped so quickly. The added fuzz of the title track makes for a not unpleasant opener, promising more of the same but with a minor twist, even conjuring up a slight Smashing Pumpkins vibe. The fey tones of Kip Berman may not find a welcome outside the core demographic, but when you're looking for future paydays from the Indietracks festival rather than Download, best not upset the formula too much. 'Heavens Gonna Happen Now' continues the optimism, carried over into 'Heart in Your Heartbreak', the motoring bassline delivering some genuine propulsion to the lightweight bodywork. It's simple, genre safe fare - but don't deny the basic pleasure of an old-fashioned toe-tapper.

Henceforth, it's as if someone broke into the studio after TPOBPAH retired for the holidays, scrubbed the masters and replaced the rest of the album with mediocre 80s New Wave more at home on the Weird Science soundtrack. Are their real loyalties more with Thompson Twins and MTV-era Gene Loves Jezebel rather than Morrissey and Marr? Call us tedious indie snobs but it's a sound that never travelled well and there's nothing here that's going to turn round 25 years of outright British hostility. All we're left with is the fallout provoked by the line in 'The Body' about "Fishnets and leather" conjuring up long buried mental images of Cher. 'Girl of 1000 Dreams' may do a passable Ash impression, introducing a little much-needed snot to proceedings, but the damage has probably been done and the predictable, lazy chord changes of 'Too Tough' had me calling it a day.

'Band in indifferent second album shocker'. Why should we be surprised? Happens all the time.



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