The four-piece indie act The Pains of Being Pure at Heart may have originally come from Brooklyn, but from the beginning, they wore their Anglophilic tendencies proudly. The band’s much-acclaimed self-titled 2009 debut album was unabashedly twee, picking up where jangle-pop acts like the Field Mice left off in the early ’90s. The record was charged throughout with wistful, slightly nerdy romance — there was a song about an encounter in a library, after all — and struck a chord with the literate and hopeful.
There’s a lot of hype to live up to, and the band, fronted by vocalist/guitarist Kip Berman and keyboardist/vocalist Peggy Wang, have thrown fans a bone before the release of the upcoming follow-up record, Belong. The band is streaming the album in its entirety for free on its web site, and it’s promising.
The sound is bigger, for sure, the behind-the-boards work of the pseudonymous Flood, the British producer born Mark Ellis, who collaborated with legends like Depeche Mode, Nick Cave, and the Jesus and Mary Chain. As such, he’s added a slight post-punk edge, and made certain sounds sharper and slightly grungier — as in the title, opening track– and others shinier and more synth-heavy, as in “The Body.”
Still present from the earlier record, though, are Berman’s and Wang’s distinctively sweet vocal interplay, and a continued obsession with relationships lost, won, and almost-won. The 10 catchy songs include no filler, and Belong is an album sure to invite repeated listening sessions. Stream the whole thing below.