Hey kids, glad to be back in business! So, I’m about to get nostalgic for a moment. The first “indie” album that I can ever remember listening to was the Jesus & Mary Chain’s Psychocandy. My cousins had come in from out of state and we usually spent our time bored out of our minds at my grandmother’s house; they were in high school, I had just entered junior high. The Jesus & Mary Chain were nothing like I had ever heard before: they tore through a pop song at a vicious pace, and introduced noise as a primary instrument. It was a harsh contrast of sweet and bitter, crunch and burn. Psychocandy was a freakout, and it was weird–the era of shoegaze had begun.
Today, I guess I like a lot of “weird” bands. The Raveonettes have formulated a series of albums that could pose as a near cover act of the Jesus & Mary Chain. Enter a little New York City band appropriately named The Pains of Being Pure At Heart. Their self-titled debut is an absolute gem and sure to go down as one of the landmark albums of the shoegaze genre. This was one of those few times where an album could exist as great in another generation as well as ours, with TPOBPAH channeling both recent and old influences. “Young Adult Friction” serves as a bridge between everything that 1980’s post-punk has taught the newer generation of dance-driven rockers like Los Campesinos! and even the Killers. TPOBPAH are at their finest when they stay toward the mainstream pop end of the spectrum, and “Stay Alive” might be the best work on the album. The Jesus & Mary Chain took a step in the same direction with 1994’s Stoned and Dethroned, and this track could easily have been pulled from that masterpiece. In fact, a handful of songs from the album could have been taken from the best of both The Smiths and New Order.
The Pains of Being Pure At Heart will probably end up on many best-of lists at the end of 2009, and surely on mine as well. It’s a fun, loosely-recorded album that is a great introduction to the wide world of shoegaze, and one that is sure to be a classic.