A decade or so ago, Kip Berman’s The Pains of Being Pure at Heart were a hype-buzz Brooklyn breakout, channeling neo-eighties fuzz and indie-pop. But the years have gone on, the rest of the band has changed, and the wunderkind isn’t a ‘kind’ anymore (even has a baby of his own now). 2014’s Days of Abandon (QRO review) was nice, but not revelatory like the group had once been. However, return Echo of Pleasure sees a really enjoyable, bright doubling-down on what made Pains so Pure.
From the sweet open “My Only” on forward, this is the bright, fuzzy Pains of Being Pure at Heart that you remember. There are some more synthed, even dance numbers that give it a different spin at times (“The Garret”, “When I Dance With You”, “The Echo of Pleasure”), and the female vocals on “So True” make a nice change in sound but not style – though Berman does get sad and stripped on closer “Stay”.
It’s not the early Obama administration any longer, and many of the artists who broke out back then have fallen by the wayside, unable to maintain their initial burst of momentum (or even worse, changed drastically in a vain attempt to find a new burst). Thankfully, Kip Berman & The Pains of Being Pure at Heart have stayed true.