At its start, the Pains of Being Pure at Heart’s lastest LP, Days of Abandon, comes on oh-so melodious; a Simon and Garfunkel-esque lament of the gritty process of creation. Though “Art Smock” stands as the most unifying material between their previous work, the Pains of Being Pure at Heart are erring more on the pop side of things and certainly more ebullient. Undoubtedly, the switch in focus comes primarily from different collaborators: frontman Kip Berman still stands as the mastermind of the group, though founding member Peggy Wang as well as Christopher Hochheim have parted ways with the band.
This allowed for Berman to experiment with different musicians, as he recently told press that he’d been playing with friends he’d never musically collaborated with before. The poppy, light vocals in “Kelly” and “Life After Life” come courtesy of A Sunny Day in Glasgow’s Jen Goma. Goma’s added bit of vocal brevity are a welcomed addition to the Pains of Being Pure at Heart sound. Where Berman tends to be weighed down by the moving components brought forth in heavier efforts, like previous LP Belong, Goma is the friendly voice reminding him that he should probably lighten up a little.
What’s curious about Days of Abandon is that the stereotypical abandonment you’d expect from Berman & Co. has been replaced by not so much a renouncement but more of a resolution to move forward in the type of direction that isn’t weighed down by the recent movement of psuedo-shoegaze ambiance with the type of overwhelming expansiveness that almost goes full circle from sincerity to the ridiculous. Unlike their contemporaries, (looking at you, Washed Out) the Pains of Being Pure at Heart have sidestepped the pigeonholing. What springs forth from Days of Abandon are quality, almost anachronistic jams that may as well be timeless. Let’s hope the Pains of Being Pure at Heart never look back from this moment on.