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The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, ‘Belong’

SPIN Rating: 8 of 10
Release Date: March 29, 2011
Label: Slumberland

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart often resemble the 120 Minutes generation’s most earnestly obsessive latchkey kids, poring over the Clinton-era’s finest gilded guitar fuzz and downer pop and reconfiguring it all into the swooniest band Dave Kendall never got to introduce.

Their self-titled full-length was like the Jesus and Mary Chain if they got stoned in a basement and just wanted to cuddle, with sharper hooks than most of the lo-fi set. For Belong, they step up in class with producers Flood and Alan Moulder, who have overseen alt-classics from Depeche Mode‘s Violator to PJ Harvey‘s To Bring You My Love. The pair give Peggy Wang’s keyboards a widescreen “I Melt With You” swoon and remind the rhythm section that My Bloody Valentine could be a dance band. Hilariously, the biggest beat ended up on “The Body,” which concerns feeling too awkward in one’s skin to enjoy anything, which is perfect.

Frontman Kip Berman’s guitars get the arena shoegaze treatment as well, with stacks of black-hole implosions and whale-moaning riffs. His lyrical scope has also widened, from simply hiding away to building a place for all the misfits. Or as he puts it on the album’s closer, “I can tell you’re strange like me.” How ’90s of him.