The Pains of Being Pure at Heart - Belong (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart

Belong (2011)


While they should be applauded for developing beyond their fuzzy debut, the Pains of Being Pure at Heart seem to have experienced some growing pains on their second full-length, Belong. While early '90s alternative seems to have done wonders for their sonic palette, clumsy lyrics ultimately undo the record.

Give the band credit for consistency, though. Belong is steadfast in its goth attitude–line after line talks about wanting to die, languishing in bed and not belonging anywhere. This isn't too far off from The Head on the Door in terms of sound and sentiment, but the whole thing comes off as dull and underwhelming. Blame the lack of variation or the slower tempos, but what once seemed cute and twee on The Pains of Being Pure at Heart gets annoying on Belong.

Some of these lines are just obnoxious: "My Terrible Friend" might unload the biggest clunker of the bunch with "What did you take? 'Cause that's what I'll take / And I can't take it without you." I can only justify the opening lines to "Strange" ("When everyone was doing drugs / We were just doing love") by assuming the band was high when they wrote them, but that can't be right. There's just a lack of eloquence, not to mention rhyme scheme diversity, at play here.

Still, the band at least gets the music right. It's startling how closely Belong approximates the guitar tone of Smashing Pumpkins' Siamese Dream at times, but then, Alan Moulder mixed both albums. The bulk of the record is still in an '80s template, but the band seems less indebted to early My Bloody Valentine now.

The best and worst thing I could say about Belong is that any of its songs would fit in perfectly with the Pretty in Pink soundtrack. It's steadfast in its juvenile depression, but it lacks the Cure's manic depths or the Psychedelic Furs' sleazy come-ons. It's the kind of album you need to hear in your teens and need to sell in your twenties.