The Pains of Being Pure at Heart

Sweet, but not too sweet.

Take one part Belle and Sebastian, two parts the Jesus and Mary Chain, and just a splash of modern indie rockers like the Shins, and you come close to getting the Pains of Being Pure at Heart. The N.Y.C. band borrows stylistically from others on their self-titled debut—particularly the oft-overlooked shoegaze genre, with its fuzzed-out guitars and “what-the-fuck-is-that-guy-singing?” vocals—yet manages to produce a sound that is refreshingly unique. The tunes are upbeat, even—dare we say it?—sunny, with sweet harmonizing between vocalists Kip and Peggy. But lest the songs be too saccharine, lines like “Can’t you see his arms are a hell/And you won’t ever leave?” on “Stay Alive,” and allusions to heartbreak in songs like “Young Adult Friction” (which wins in the “awesome-song-title” contest), undercut the sweet with just the right amount of bitterness.