Pop & Rock 2011: 30 Best Albums
The number of bands that create a memorable debut album but stumble thereafter are more numerous than stars in the sky. New York indie pop band Pains of Being Pure At Heart's introductory full-length in 2009 was nothing short of pure bliss. And this year they sidestepped fading into the unknown mist ― their follow-up album Belong slaughtered the sophomore slump with a loving middle finger. Produced and mixed by the same fine folks who have worked with the likes of the Smashing Pumpkins and Depeche Mode, Pains capture the uplifting pop sensibilities of those bands without becoming a nostalgic clone. The fuzzed-out guitars, inviting synth melodies and Kip Berman's soft vocals combine to create this warm feeling that can cure a broken heart, or lift a euphoric feeling even higher. From the title track that begins the album with this "us against the world" feeling that makes you believe anything is truly possible, to the closing track "Strange" that cements that same sentiment under the light of a couple in love, Belong takes the listener on a heart-wrenching ride toward hope.
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