There's something seriously wrong when a band made up of people in their mid-to-late twenties don't find it embarrassing to perform as The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, which is quite possibly one of the most nauseatingly maudlin monikers in the history of pop music. What's even more baffling to me is what otherwise-respectable music journalists see in this band. Even Pitchfork likes them (not that their blessing means much to me -- I find that site to be completely off base a solid 50% of the time, but everyone else still takes them pretty seriously.) Thing is, it's not just Pitchfork. They must have some real fans, or else they wouldn't be headlining at Neumos next Tuesday.
Annie Powers These guys look so sweet, I almost feel bad about publishing this. Almost.
Back in May, SPIN published a "Breaking Out" interview with the band that uses the phrase "doe-eyed sincerity" as a descriptor. Except that nothing could be more insincere than claiming that you, somehow, are pure at heart -- and worse, implying that it's painful to be "pure at heart" because there are all these meanies out there who like to take advantage of your saintly ways. Flawed logic alert: Unless there's something you're not telling us, POBPAH, none of you are the second (or first) coming of Christ, which means you're also not pure at heart. None of us are. And that doesn't even begin to address why it's okay to pick a band name that's more emo than Morrissey, Sunny Day Real Estate and the Promise Ring's early work combined.
Embarrassing as I think it would be for anyone over 15 years old to admit to being a fan of this band, I am still willing to overlook shitty, pretentious, overlong band names if the group's music is good enough. But the Pains of Being Pure at Heart write generic indie pop songs that don't even come close to transcending the profound pretentiousness of their handle. Listen to "Everything With You" or "Stay Alive" and it's obvious that these kids are trying to be the Smiths redux -- and failing miserably. Their melodies are sort of catchy, but why would you ever listen to something as derivative and repetitive as this when there's really great, original pop music out there that's both catchy and innovative -- like, say, Throw Me the Statue, who play the Vera Project on Tuesday, the 22nd. Their band name is pretty lame, too. But at least the music is good enough to override it.