Tag Archives: The Pains OF Being Pure At Heart

The Pains of Being Pure At Heart: Days of Abandon


The Pains of Being Pure At Heart: Days of Abandon- Sweetness for days, and would you expect any less from an indie pop group whose own name comes from a children’s book? New York’s Pains of Being Pure At Heart have always found themselves at the middle ground between twee and shoegaze influence and unsurprisingly have been turning out likable, earnest records since their 2009 self-titled debut. With their latest effort, Days of Abandon, the band has traded in some of the fuzzy guitar rock that started to emerge on the debut and took centerstage on their sophomore follow-up, Belong, in favor of polished, sunny pop that is inviting, endearing, and sweet to a degree that is cavity-inducing.

‘Art Smock’ acts as our introduction to the album. With the light instrumentation and the tender intonation of Kip Berman’s vocals on this particular track, it almost seemed comparable to something you might hear Bret McKenzie sing in a ballad. It doesn’t seem like that odd of a comparison to make either when you hear lyrics like “I liked you better in your art smock/mocking art rock/without intention, without design/you said you’d never be fine with being fine/or mine.” It’s certainly cute in nature but by no means is it the best song on the effort. Now with the following track, ‘Simple and Sure’, that’s when things are really kicked into gear. Whereas ‘Art Smock’ wistfully gazes out a sun-drenched window, ‘Simple and Sure’ is an invitation to get up and dance with whoever is closest.  It’s a song that manages to capture that wide-eyed energy featured so prominently on the self-titled album. The vocals and melodies are equally happy-go-lucky which is a continued quality throughout the rest of the album that leaves listeners captivated.

‘Kelly’ is another charming addition, with a lovely job done by A Sunny Day in Glasgow‘s Jen Goma, a newly-added member to the lineup after the departure of former keyboardist/vocalist Peggy Wang . Vocals are split up between Goma and Berman throughout Days of Abandon and they compliment one another beautifully. Goma takes the lead on tracks like ‘Kelly’ and ‘Life After Life’ and does so with assurance and grace.

Earlier, in talking about the first track of the record I noted that it was not the strongest track on the album. That title without-a-doubt goes to ‘Eurydice’, one of the singles they released before the album officially dropped. The lively tempo, the perfectly blended instrumentation, the secondary background vocals that fade in and out hauntingly (especially toward the end of the song); everything about it is a recipe for musical bliss. It captures a hopefulness and you can’t help but feel it deep in your chest when the chorus rolls along and you hear the words “I never stop losing you.” Another standout on the album is the track that immediately follows, ‘Masokissed’, with more playful melodies and lyrics that you can’t help but smile at: “Sweet masokissed/in the morning mist/Why would you ever leave this place/when all I need is your chip-toothed smile/to know that life’s more than ok?”

With two full-length releases already under their belt, The Pains of Being Pure At Heart are starting to focus in on and fine tune what it is they do best. They know who they are as a band, though they’ve lost a couple members along the way, and most importantly, they know their sound. That sweet, likable quality so present in everything they create has almost become a trademark at this point. Rather than ignore this, Berman and crew have highlighted it with lovely tunes that are warm and catchy to a fault. Days of Abandon isn’t for everyone, I have to admit. There are those who prefer something a little more dark in their music; a certain sadness that I guarantee you won’t find on this album. This is an album set to theme the brighter moments in life and allow you to keep your head in the clouds, if not for just a moment…9.7/10


Ice Choir: Afar

Ice Choir: Afar- Perhaps best described in their song of the same name: “now we are the ice choir, in hibernating pose, to listen for the crack of spring or push against the rose…,” Ice Choir is a proliferation of quintessential 80’s pop. Comprised of Kurt Feldman, Patrick South, Raphael Radna, and Avery Brooks, Ice Choir are the perfect epitome of eighties new wave. Their engaging use of synthesizers paired with the sometimes cliched, but mostly poetically ubiquitous lyrics create the ultimate throwback. Formed in Brooklyn in 2010, Ice Choir is the side project of The Pains of Being Pure at Heart drummer Kurt Feldman. As Kurt said in the interview he was kind enough to give Violent Success earlier this week: “it was a pretty natural evolution…rather than forcing these new ideas on the same listeners, I started over with a new project.”

From start to finish, Afar is heaping with vintage riffs and unparalleled transitions creating a record that spans across the generations. Beginning with the end, and one of the most memorable songs on Afar, ‘Everything is Spoilt by Use,’ features the alluring Caroline Polachek of Chairlift. The dreamy melodies and perfect juxtaposition of their two voices makes for a song worthy of the repeat button and also serves as a perfect ending of this impeccable album. Jumping back to the beginning, “I Want You Now and Always” is the epitome of the classic 80’s song. Fan favorite, “Teletrips,” veers away slightly  from the expected 80s music and a true sense of Ice Choir begins to show through that becomes relevant throughout Afar. The rest of the record follows suit, even eliciting a hint of Michael Jackson in “A Vision of Hell, 1996.”

If you are searching for a nostalgic trip back to the feelgood times of the eighties or just want to delve into thirty five minutes of unaffected music, Ice Choir’s Afar will certainly do the trick…9/10.

Two Rings

Profile: Ice Choir

If the name Kurt Feldman rings a bell, there’s a good reason for that. He’s been an integral part of The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart for years and was one of the creative minds behind The Depreciation Guild. While his new project, Ice Choir, bears closer resemblance to the latter, the similarities end at synth-based electro. Ice Choir blends 80s new wave, a touch of twee and tons of swirling synths to make a debut that dazzles the mind. Ahead of Afar being released this Tuesday, we caught up with Feldman to discuss his past, present and future…

Violent Success: How did you creatively approach Ice Choir? Was it a natural evolution from what you did with The Depreciation Guild, or does it feel like entirely new territory?

Ice Choir: It was a pretty natural evolution. At the tail end of Depreciation Guild, I started writing songs that didn’t have any of the NES programming that was featured in all of our other works. As a result, I realized that it didn’t really sound like Depreciation Guild anymore. So, rather than forcing these new ideas on the same listeners, I started over with a new project. It made sense because we were all losing focus and interest in Depreciation Guild anyway and everyone else was looking to do their own thing.

VS: How long has Afar been in the making?

Ice Choir: I wrote this album between October 2010 and May 2011. Between May 2011 and January it was assembled in my studio and then mixed by Jorge Elbrecht.

VS: In addition to Ice Choir, you’re also part of The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart. Are you part of any other projects and how do you divide your time between everything you’re doing?

Ice Choir: Besides those two bands, I’ve been focusing mainly on producing/mixing some projects for other people and writing some music for videogames.

VS: What kind of a practice environment do you have? Do you tend to shut out the outside world or are there people who you trust that you like to get opinions from?

Ice Choir: We don’t practice very often and when we do, we do it in my apartment (where Patrick and I both live) at low volume. I shut out most people but there are some close friends and musicians (my bandmates, for example) that I trust for opinions about my music or ideas I might have.

VS: When you’re writing lyrics, do they tend to be more personal or conceptual?

Ice Choir: It really depends on the song. Most of them are pretty high-concept but sometimes those concepts are rooted in reality and then embellished for dramatic effect.

VS: Have you ever had the urge to change the way your music sounds?

Ice Choir: For Ice Choir, not yet.

VS: Who would you want to sit in the studio with, even if it was just for one song?

Ice Choir: I’ve always admired Nat Raab of San Serac as a songwriter and producer. I’d love to see how he works out his ideas and records everything. I think I could learn a lot from him.

VS: Which musician(s) did you grow up idolizing?

Ice Choir: The first person I ever idolized was Kurt Cobain when I was in 3rd or 4th grade. Then shortly after that it was Billy Corgan… throughout my teens I fixated on lots of different bands within the general sphere of “American indie rock” and then in high school, started branching out more into British, Japanese, and synthesizer-based music. Eventually though, I grew out of idolizing specific musicians and began to simply respect different ones for their individual contributions to my musical upbringing. Nowadays I find myself latching on to certain producers rather than musicians. I love going through the catalog of artists a specific producer has worked with the goal of finding a narrative thread; the elements of style that are constant throughout their releases.

VS: Finally, when writing an album, who or what do you typically find yourself thinking of most?

Ice Choir: All of the things that inspire me to make the song I’m working on and the ways in which I can deviate from them to make them my own.

VS’ Sexiest Record Wrap-Up

When 2011 is said and done, there can only be one that surpasses all others. While there were 3 records that were rated perfectly this year and 2 that were as close to perfect as anyone could get, the process involved in picking the best of 2011 was as pleasurable as it was difficult. I want to personally congratulate the artists mentioned here today and thank you for your tremendous talent and dedication to your craft– You guys are the best of the best and it was a pleasure talking about all of you. And you, reading at home or where-the-fuck-ever, I want to thank each one of you personally for making what I do here worthwhile by stopping and reading what I have to say… even if it’s sometimes nonsensical, kiss-assy and occasionally mean as hell. I appreciate it. Thank you.

And the best of 2011 are:

10. Owen: Ghost Town  9.4/10

I Believe

9. Maritime: Human Hearts  9.4/10

It’s Casual

8. Alela Diane: Alela Diane and Wild Divine  9.5/10

Long Way Down

7. Teeel: Amulet  9.7/10

Galilean Moons

6. The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart: Belong  9.8/10

Even In Dreams

5. Mogwai: Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will  9.9/10

 Letters To The Metro

4. Hooray For Earth: True Loves  9.9/10

True Loves

3. Com Truise: Galactic Melt  10/10


2.  A.A. Bondy: Believers  10/10

The Twist

And the Golden VS goes to…

1. Tycho: Dive  10/10


Honorable mentions:

Chad Valley: Equatorial Ultravox

Low: C’mon

Real Estate: Days

An ice choir walks into a dive bar and says…

Theres been plenty of significant interest in what Kurt Feldman has been doing over the last couple of years. You may recognize him from his drumming in The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart or for his guitar/vocal work in Depreciation Guild. You may not, however, know that hes teamed up with Raphael Radna(Depreciation Guild) as well as a couple others and formed himself a little electro-pop band called Ice Choir. While Ice Choir still has yet to release anything formally, they have recorded a track for a Japan benefit record along with Kurt Vile, Violens, Acrylics and others that you can get here. This is all there is for now, but we’ll be looking very closely for a formal release in the near-future.

Two Rings (Hard Mix)

 Tycho is somewhat of a versatile artist. He not only produces music but he also does a lot of graphical work under his other alias, ISO50. I, for one, thought he was most likely producing a full length for release late last year after Ghostly put out his Coastal Brake single. Then there was nothing. Now hes announced that Dive will be out November 15th and he also took the opportunity to give a sneak peak at it with Hours. If you’re a fan of Tycho, you already know its best to be patient, but you also know its always worth the wait.


1 2