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Album Review: The Pains of Being Pure at Heart – The Echo of Pleasure

By on Friday, 1st September 2017 at 12:00 pm

Pains TEOP coverThe upcoming fourth studio album from The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, titled ‘The Echo of Pleasure’, finds frontman and songwriter Kip Berman coming to terms with reality. It’s been a bit of a process for Berman, going back to Pains’ excellent previous LP. “On ‘Days of Abandon’‘, I was on my own. There was no one in the room making decisions with me. It felt strange experiencing that isolation while trying to make sense of it through writing,” Berman admits in the press release for the new LP. “With this [new] record, I’ve made peace with the fact I am Pains. It’s always been my band, but I haven’t been super comfortable saying that, partly because I’ve enjoyed working with so many talented friends, and also because the songs I wrote seemed to mean more than anything my actual life could live up to.”

Berman hasn’t entirely given up on collaborating with his network of friends. ‘The Echo of Pleasure’ finds him working again with producer Andy Savours, vocalist Jen Goma (A Sunny Day in Glasgow), and multi-instrumentalist Kelly Pratt on brass. But “actual life”, which for Berman now includes a wife and child, is the clear thematic focus on ‘The Echo of Pleasure’. He’s moved beyond the coming-of-age growing pains of his younger days, concentrating instead on the more subtle realities of mature and lasting love.

Opening track and recent single ‘My Only’ immediately “makes the matter plain”, as Berman puts it in the verse lyrics. The song’s synth melody and the echoing backing vocals are light and instantly catchy, but there’s a sense of anxiety in the bass line, underlying the rather uneasy resolution in the chorus lines “now that I’ve said it / don’t you forget / you’re my only”.

The musical and dramatic tension are heightened on early single ‘Anymore’, as Berman sings, “I couldn’t take anymore / I wanted to die with you”, and ‘The Garret’, where he intones “when I leave you / I can’t leave you / part of me remains”. ‘When I Dance With You’ takes a markedly lighter tone with a trippy dance beat and bright synth sounds under the lines “when I dance with you / I feel okay / ‘cos I know just what to do”.

Sharp and synthy title track ‘The Echo of Pleasure’ cuts to the heart of the matter, lyrically exploring the unbreakable bond between two lovers. Its edgy guitar lines and propulsive rhythm provide a feeling of musical and emotional depth under the simple, repeating chorus. ‘Falling Apart So Slow’ is lyrically wistful and nostalgic but musically cool and detached, with Kelly Pratt’s yearning brass in the bridge section making a clever, though subtle, emotional connection between music and words. Jen Goma’s bright, clear vocals are featured on the upbeat and infectiously singable ‘So True’, whose pop-flavoured musical setting once again belies the depth of meaning in Berman’s poetry.

Penultimate track ‘The Cure for Death’ brings a sense of resolute determination to the end of the album, emphasising a propulsive and persistent drumbeat under the repeated plea “don’t die away”. Album closer ‘Stay’ closes the proceedings with a gently orchestrated, softly-harmonised ballad pledging eternal togetherness.

As always with The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, ‘The Echo of Pleasure’ is melodic, deftly textured, and supremely listenable. The overall sound is certainly a little edgier than what we’ve heard from Kip Berman and company in the past. But its underlying anxiety ultimately finds a sweet sense of resolution, both musically and emotionally, as Berman makes peace with who he is as a songwriter and where he now finds himself in life.


‘The Echo of Pleasure’ is out today on Painbow Records. You can find TGTF’s previous coverage of The Pains of Being Pure at Heart right back here.


Video of the Moment #2411: The Pains of Being Pure at Heart

By on Friday, 28th July 2017 at 6:00 pm

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, led by Kip Berman pictured above, will be releasing a new album at the start of September. ‘The Echo of Pleasure’, which will see the light of day on the 1st of September on the band’s own Painbow label. It’s been 3 years since their last LP, 2014’s ‘Days of Abandon’.

A previously unveiled single from the upcoming album, ‘When I Dance With You’, features A Sunny Day in Glasgow‘s Jen Goma. The single now has its own video. Part animation and part live video showing the group from New York in action in front of an audience of children, watch and listen to the poppy, peppy ‘When I Dance With You’ below. For more of our past coverage here on TGTF on The Pains of Being Pure at Heart in its various guises, go here.



Album Review: The Pains of Being Pure at Heart – Hell EP

By on Wednesday, 18th November 2015 at 12:00 pm

Pains Hell EPI’ve never imagined hell as being a warm and sunny place, but in the hands of Kip Berman and the Pains of Being Pure at Heart, it becomes pleasantly balmy and inviting, if only for a very brief time. The band’s concise new EP ‘Hell’ takes its title from its only original tune, which Berman says is “about how insufferable performances of sensitivity are when there’s a good song playing and someone you want to dance with.” The song ‘Hell’ is pure ephemeral pop, with a peppy beat and a jaunty guitar riff under Berman’s nonchalant vocals. His breezy, disaffected delivery of the chorus line “now we’re going to hell, oh well’ effectively sums up his stated meaning without too much further elaboration.

‘Ballad of the Band’ is equally sunny and upbeat, bathing itself in the ’80s-style irony of setting wryly self-conscious lyrics to cleanly melodic and engagingly jaunty music. The Pains’ cover isn’t vastly different to the original by Birmingham alt-pop band Felt, the main change being a subtle shift in the instrumentation, minimizing the carnival style keyboards and instead putting emphasis on the guitar melody.

The final track on the EP is another cover, again not particularly experimental, but this one more overtly bitter and mildly punk rock in its styling. Vocals for ‘Laid’ (originally by Manchester rock band James) are here provided by Jen Goma, lead singer for A Sunny Day in Glasgow, who also sang some of the most memorable moments on the Pains’ last full length album ‘Days of Abandon’.  Her delivery here is grittier and more forceful than what I’ve heard from her in the past, omitting the James version’s falsetto vocal melisma on the repeated word “pretty” and opting instead for a low growl that seems somehow appropriate for a cover that takes quite literally the song’s lyric about “messing around with gender roles.” Before you dive into the new version, you can have a listen to the original just below.


The ‘Hell’ EP was released in conjunction with the Pains of Being Pure at Heart’s November live dates, which included a show in London earlier this month before the band headed around the globe to Asia. They’ve just wrapped up a pair of shows in Japan and will play the Clockenflap Festival in Hong Kong and the Neon Lights Festival in Singapore at the end of the month. The digital-only ‘Hell’ EP is available now via the band’s one-off label Painbow.

If the brevity of the new EP leaves you wanting more from the Pains of Being Pure at Heart, you can check out our archive of coverage on the band right back here.


Live Gig Video: The Pains of Being Pure at Heart perform ‘Kelly’ with Jen Goma of A Sunny Day in Glasgow

By on Monday, 27th October 2014 at 4:00 pm

In this pretty laid back promo video with pretty colours fading in and out, we have here The Pains of Being Pure at Heart performing ‘Kelly’, from their third studio album ‘Days of Abandon’. At the front of all this activity is Jen Goma, taking a break from her day job in A Sunny Day in Glasgow. Watch the video below.



MP3 of the Day #838: The Pains of Being Pure at Heart

By on Friday, 27th June 2014 at 10:00 am

Following a line-up change, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart released their third album ‘Days of Abandon’ earlier this month. (Read Carrie’s review of the LP here.) Being the good folks they are, they wanted you have a sneak peek behind the scenes of their album. They’re giving away the Winter Station demo of ‘Kelly’, which appears ‘Days of Abandon’ via Noisetrade. Go forth and prosper.


Album Review: The Pains of Being Pure at Heart – Days of Abandon

By on Monday, 2nd June 2014 at 12:00 pm

Days Of Abandon album coverIf you’re looking for an album of songs to soundtrack your summer, look no further than ‘Days of Abandon’, the latest release from The Pains of Being Pure at Heart. I first listened to the album while in the car on a lengthy drive, and I was immediately inspired to put the top down and cruise along the beach, despite the facts that (a) I was actually in kind of a hurry and (b) I don’t own a convertible. I settled for rolling the windows down and letting the breeze blow through my hair as I grooved along with Pains’ shimmering pop melodies.

I’m normally attentive to lyrics first and foremost, but in the case of ‘Days of Abandon’, many of the vocal lines are blurred into the atmospheric sonic effects, frontman Kip Berman’s hushed vocals blending with the sheer, cool guitars and shimmering keyboards. The instrumental soundscapes are almost like too-bright sunlight partially obscuring an otherwise beautiful view. On its surface, this music is sunny and carefree, but closer examination of the lyrics (helpfully provided on the band’s Web site), reveals a juxtaposition of forlorn abandonment with the lighthearted and relaxed instrumental effects.

Where the lyrics do shine through, they are thoughtful and impressionistic, purposefully vague but vividly evocative. The first lines of opening track ‘Art Smock’, “I want to know what happened to you / I liked you better in your art smock / Mocking art rock without intention / Without design / You said you’d never be fine with being fine / Or mine”, are a perfect example, articulated over acoustic guitar and ringing chimes.

‘Simple and Sure’ is an upbeat track that lives up to its name with a catchy chorus and light pop vocals over a steady rhythm and driving guitar riffs; I could easily hear this as a backing track to a shiny summer advertising campaign. Its spinning chorus, “It might seem simple but I’m sure / I just want to be yours / It won’t be easy but I know / I simply want to be yours”, leaves the most enduring impression of any track on the album. (Editor Mary featured it as a Video of The Moment here back in March.)

‘Kelly’ is equally bouncy and carefree, with softly lilting vocals from keyboardist Jen Goma (A Sunny Day in Glasgow) and bright keyboard melodies over tripping percussion. Goma is also featured later in the album on ‘Life After Life’, and while her light, clear voice is a nice diversion from Berman’s breathy tone, the pair achieve a subtle blend that doesn’t distract from the overall mood of the record.

‘Beautiful You’ and ‘Coral and Gold’ are sweepingly atmospheric tracks that somehow fade into the background, despite their almost symphonic grandiosity. The former track is over 6 minutes in length, which feels a bit drawn out for a song whose structure consists mainly of rhyming couplets such as “A martyr in your garters / Harder than I’ll ever be”. The latter has an startlingly bombastic chorus that all but drowns the delicacy of its lovelorn lyrics.

The second half of the album is a bit more focused, starting with the crisp drums, vibrant guitar melody and anthemic chorus of ‘Eurydice’, which is upbeat despite its melancholic lyrics. ‘Masokissed’ is a bittersweet play on words: “Sweet masokissed in the morning mist / Why would you ever leave this place / When all I need is your chip-toothed smile to know / life’s more than okay?”, accompanied by a another lively guitar line.

‘Until the Sun Explodes’ is exactly the short but energetic fireball suggested in its title, the chorus a barrage of guitars and drums underpinned by heavy bass. (Check out the animated video below.) Closing track ‘The Asp at My Chest’ is an impressionistic and atmospheric track featuring a slow, entrancing tempo and the group’s signature hypnotic vocal blend, which, along with the hissing percussion, create quite a serpentine effect.


‘Days of Abandon’ could be the perfect incidental music for the carefree days of summer. The purely pleasant pop style is easy on the ears and doesn’t require a great deal of commitment on the part of the listener. Nonetheless, devoted fans of The Pains of Being Pure at Heart will find reward in a little extra attention to the songs’ lyrical details.


‘Days of Abandon’, the third album from Brooklyn’s The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, is out today on Fierce Panda. The group have also announced a short list of UK tour dates to follow the album release.


About Us

There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF was edited by Mary Chang, based in Washington, DC.

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