Days Of Abandon is unquestionably the group’s most glossy and sophisticated record to date; to achieve this, Berman strips his songwriting of its punch, relying more on breezy atmospherics than memorable hooks. “Simple And Sure” sets the too-cute mood with sunny synths and a soaring, uncomplicated chorus of “It might seem simple but I’m sure / I just want to be yours.” As the bright, buoyant spirit continues through to “Eurydice,” however, one starts to get the sense that these songs’ airy excursions through the ether aren’t going anywhere in particular. And though “Until The Sun Explodes” attempts a late-album recapturing of Belong’s distorted dynamic, a limp, half-hearted riff prevents the track from ever getting off the ground.
For what it’s worth, the subdued style may be a better fit for Berman’s breathy, hushed vocals, which never were a very clean lock with the edgier material; with contributions by Jen Goma of A Sunny Day In Glasgow (who even occasionally takes the lead), Days Of Abandon’s lushly clean tones provide an innocuous foundation upon which layers of warm harmonies are laid. In the end, the record’s flaws aren’t wholly a product of the mellower genre as much as a generally uninspired execution. The gentler ambiance and oh-so-precious presentation just don’t make up for the lackluster song-craft, and there’s little other innovation at play to save it all from being an unremarkable bore.
If such nuanced, perfectly sour-to-saccharine confectionaries distinguish Abandon, the record’s sheer sonic politeness occasionally blunts its emotional impact. The C86-like bite of earlier material and the deep swirl of Belong is somewhat missed on the especially drifty “The Asp In My Chest” and “Coral and Gold,” which are so frothy they threaten to blow by without notice.
But thankfully, Berman has failed to take one cue from his single-centric heroes of the ‘80s and early ‘90s, who tended to shine brightest on compilations and 7-inches; this is the third Pains record in a row that has enough memorable songs to play almost like a career-spanning Best Of collection.
(Pretty Much Amazing)
The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart (mit der Vorband Fear Of Men) in Deutschland:
18.06.14 Stuttgart, Club Schocken
19.06.14 München, Strom
20.06.14 Berlin, Magnet
21.06.14 Frankfurt, Zoom
22.06.14 Münster, Gleis 22
24.06.14 Hamburg, Knust
25.06.14 Köln, Luxor