Written by Rahoul Naik
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart have long set the benchmark for big-hearted, idealistic pop songs. With The Echo of Pleasure, The Pains push beyond their many inspirations and embrace their role as indiepop heroes in their own right. Showcasing the deft songwriting of frontman 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 iconic debut.
Berman enlisted 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 best moments on the album live in the space near fear but find comfort in the solace that follows giving into love. On the succulent cacophony of first single, Anymore, it’s the sweetly dark, double-edged resolution of “I couldn’t take anymore / I wanted to die with you.” Says Berman, “’Anymore’ is about a love that is extreme in its wonder and terror. ‘I wanted to die with you’ could mean either – and it probably means both.”
The Echo of Pleasure navigates variability and safety without unraveling. Berman is no stranger to fragility; here, it’s structured with warmth, the kind found after life-altering moments. It’s reflected in the album title, too: “The Echo of Pleasure could be the near-symmetry of love,” he explains. “It’s the reflection back and forth, modulating over time, of two people who are together. It’s not a mirror – but a perpetual answering and asking. When one person is absent, that echo ceases or, as the title track laments, ‘fades into these silent days.’ In that sense, remembering is a kind of echo, each instance slightly less vivid than the one before.”
The band will tour the UK in late May, returning to New York for Northside Festival in June. The Echo of Pleasure arrives July 14 and you can pre-order it here.
Listen to Anymore below.