The Pains of Being Pure at Heart have never been shy about their influences. The jangly, shrill treble of their 2009 debut instantly harkened back to C86-infused indie pop of the late '80s and early '90s. Yet rather than coming off like a band simply riding the popularity of a trendy second indie pop wave, the band managed to place themselves within an almost perfect musical niche of their own. Beneath the noisy fuzz of their self-titled debut, there seemed to be an undeniably heartfelt quality imbued into each song, as though the band were truly grateful for the music that inspired their own. Lead singer Kip Berman even paid a lyrical homage to Stuart Murdoch on the track "Come Saturday."
Despite now being three full-length albums into their career, the Pains have happily held on to and continued to embrace their charming amateurism on latest effort Days of Abandon. There is still a childlike quality to Berman's voice that now almost contradicts itself; it's so sure and confident in its own timidity. Though the band has largely moved away from the noisy fuzz of their earlier work, they remain as up front as ever about their influences. The understated acoustic guitar on opener "Art Smock" sounds lovingly indebted to If You're Feeling Sinister. "Kelly," meanwhile, seems to playfully pay homage to "This Charming Man" with its danceable, jangly guitars and sharp bass lines. Sparkly lead off single "Simple and Sure" is perhaps the most appropriately titled song on Days of Abandon. The phrase seems to encapsulate the Pains' entire aesthetic — never overly ambitious, but perfectly confident in their own abilities and inspirations. On Days of Abandon, the Pains continue to demonstrate why they've been able to find this sweet spot that so many bands strive for. (Slumberland)