The Pains of Being Pure at Heart
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart have long set the benchmark for big-hearted, idealistic pop
songs. On their forthcoming self-released LP, they push beyond their many inspirations and
embrace their role as indie-pop heroes in their own right. Showcasing the deft, poetic
songwriting of front-man Kip Berman, The Pains’ fourth album is their most confident and
accomplished. After three critically-acclaimed records, 2009’s The Pains of Being Pure at Heart ,
2011’s Belong and 2014’s Days of Abandon received praise from The New York Times, Pitchfork,
The Guardian and Rolling Stone , they have put together a collection of songs that possess a
timeless grandeur, deeper and more satisfying than anything the band has done since their now
From their earliest days of C86-worship to Alternative Nation-sized anthems to a matured,
“Simple and Sure” pop refinement, the new music is what Berman describes as sounding
“heavy and hopeful, like love.It’s an album that reflects the band’s most joyous moments while
maintaining Berman’s candid and critical lyricism, free of the self-abasing insecurity of youth.
“The album is loving. The music is heavier, more expansive,” he says. “To me, songs about love
shouldn’t be thought of as light. Love is big - sometimes it’s emphatic, overwhelming or simple -
other times it’s tense, anxious or just exhausting. But at its best, it makes you want to be
In their decade long career, Berman has stood at the center of The Pains of Being Pure at Heart,
and with a changing lineup, it’s become more apparent. “On [the last album] Days of Abandon, I
was on my own. There was no one in the room making decisions with me. It felt strange
experiencing that isolation while trying to make sense of it through writing,” Berman admits.
That album was about loss, and I think it conveyed that feeling well – but I’m glad to move on
from that place. On this new collection of songs he’s learned to take full agency of something
he’s always owned. “With this record, I’ve made peace with the fact I am Pains. It’s always been
my band, but I haven’t been super comfortable saying that, partly because I’ve enjoyed working
with so many talented friends, and also because the songs I wrote seemed to mean more than
anything my actual life could live up to.
Berman enlisted the help of Days of Abandon producer Andy Savours (My Bloody Valentine,
The Killers) to help him record a Pains record like none-other. “The logistics of it were so
different. When I recorded the record, my wife was six months pregnant. We only had a limited
amount of time. There was an absolute uncertainty hanging over our heads, but it was also a
kind of escape from worry for that time.” He explains. “What’s going to happen when I have a
kid? Am I going to be able to go on tour? Is this the last record I’m going to get to make? It’s not
a bad thing to be worried when you’re expecting this huge transition of life. If you didn’t feel
scared, you’re probably not feeling the right emotion. I tried to make the best record I could,
knowing it might be the last time.”
The Pains and their new album navigate and call attention to variability and safety without
unraveling. Berman is no stranger to fragility; here, it’s structured with warmth, the kind found
after life-altering moments.
The music is augmented by guest vocals from previous Pains collaborators: Jen Goma on vocals
(A Sunny Day in Glasgow), bass guitar by Jacob Danish Sloan (Dream Diary), and horns by Kelly
Pratt (Beirut, David Byrne, St. Vincent). The Pains of Being Pure at Heart live band consists of
long-time guitarist Christoph Hochheim (Ablebody, ex-Depreciation Guild), drummer Chris
Schackerman (ex-Mercury Girls, ex-Literature) and vocalist/keyboardist Jess Rojas. The band
will tour the UK in late May, returning to New York for Northside Festival in June with more
selective dates to be announced shortly.
Please follow the band via their social media and website links for upcoming details.