12 September 2017

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart - The Echo of Pleasure

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart are an American project, in the studio it is all the work of Kip Berman, live he has a full band that assist him and bring his vision to life.  The Echo of Pleasure is the fourth album from TPoBPaH, which comes at a time of upheaval in Mr Berman’s life.  He is about to become (or already is) a father, so his aims will have to change and he has mentioned that this might be the last we hear of this project for a while.  The Echo of Pleasure was released digitally on 1st September 2017 and will be getting a physical release later in the month, they have been on tour in the UK recently, they also have a USA/Canadian tour coming up as well as a tour of Spain.  So, what does this album sound like?

01 – My Only

The album has a melancholic start with “My Only”, a song which is trying to comfort a lover about fidelity and how they are the only person for them.  It is a slow song, one that sounds like a mixture of MGMT and The Killers at their moodiest and it is a well-played number with a catchy chorus, but it does not have enough energy to be endearing in my books.

02 – Anymore

A song with a rebellious spirit, a need for a final escape and for a lover to return, “Anymore” is a hymn for the disenchanted middle England/USA middle-class teenage years, for someone who is struggling with their feelings, but is not in a position to know how the world works outside the confines of their own small world.  It is something that some people will turn their noses up at, it is something that some people will identify with; for me, it is an average song lyrically over a great piece of music.  It is one of the brighter moments on this album and will be a song that I think will go down well in their live shows.

03 – The Garret

There is a whiff of familiarity with “The Garret”, that guitar lick which runs throughout the song is very familiar and it drives me to distraction on this song.  It is another song with is musically strong, but lyrically weak for my tastes.  But I cannot say it is played bad at all, it is just that I have heard this sort of song before.

04 – When I Dance with You

“When I Dance with You” is a high-energy indie pop number for the dancefloor, a song that will make the night seem brighter, the drinks flow faster and the good times will keep rolling as it is played.  It is a simple love song, but one that has everything going for it on this album.  It just comes together and it feels original as well, their influences are not smothering it and that is an important step in the right direction in my eyes on this album.

05 – The Echo of Pleasure

The synth 80’s are back with the title track of this album, with a broken relationship forming the foundation of this song.  It is an angry song, full of bitter bile and scorn as the love has turned into hatred and everything has gone south.  It is something that some people will identify with, some people will say other things that are unkind.  It is another song where the music is swamped by influence, but when the influences sound this good, it is hardly a bad thing.

06 – Falling Apart So Slow

Falling Apart So Slow” is back in New Order territory once more with a little bit of Spector as well, which sort of leave me a bit cold once again.  This sort of slow indie heartache is hard to pull off, sadly they are not close on “Falling….” as it sounds like a child who does not know what love really is.  It is a low point if I am honest, so I will move onto the next song with haste.

07 – So True

Vocal duties are taken by Jen Goma from A Sunny Day in Glasgow for “So True”, it is a beautiful mixture of vocals harmony on this one with a summer-influenced song that gives it an anthemic feeling.  Lyrically, the song is dealing with conflicting emotions, waiting for love, partying till dawn This all adds up to give the song a disjointed feeling, but it is not the worst song I have heard either.  It is an indie pop anthem, which stays around a few moments too long to be honest.

08 – The Cure for Death

The penultimate song of this album is another song that is worried about love, trying to figure everything out and it is all very dramatic.  It is also the same tale that has followed the best percentage of this album – it sounds familiar, the music is the best thing about it and it is sort of forgettable as well.  It is a shame as they have gone to a lot of effort on thissong (and by extension, the rest of the record), but it is drifting past me and leaving very little trace that it even existed.

09 – Stay

Ending the album is the slow, synth heavy which is laden with doubt, fear and trepidation about how everything will turn out once all is said and done.  It is another highlight on this album, one where everything comes together as it feels like there is an emotional connection on this one, it feels like a choice has been made and it is right for all parties.  To be able to articulate that in a song is something I admire and I applaud the band for this, it ends the album on a sombre high note.

I think it is safe to say that this is not an album I would return to in a hurry, but it is also not an album I would dismiss out of hand.  It is just an album that is not for me, which sometimes happens when you tend to review a lot.  It feels over familiar from the start; their influences are so strong that it is starving of an original spark to gain my interest here.  For a band who are four albums into their career, that is a little worrying to be honest.  I do not think that the impending fatherhood will have been a distraction, as I have checked out their other work and came to a similar conclusion about their work.  But maybe this is their own voice and I am just being cynical.  I would also like to say that to be fair to TPoBPaH, the songs on this album are not that bad in the grand scheme of things, they are just numbers that I have heard before by other artist in different forms.  Kip Berman is not a bad musician, his music will have his fans in rapture will enjoy this thoroughly and dance late into the night whilst it is playing, but I am not part of that audience.  So, for me this is an average album that is played well, but not my sort of thing.

5 out of ten – Not for everyone, but played well

Top track – Stay

You can purchase The Echo of Pleasure on Amazon here.

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