by / April 4th, 2011 /

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart – Belong

 3/5 Rating

(Play It Again Sam/Fortuna POP)

Carol Smilie and Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen accompany a yellow sweat-shirted couple into their newly re-decorated room. The couple are allowed to remove their hands from their eager eyes, to discover that their shambolic dusty living space has been transformed into a glossy sparkling thing. With early-90s décor.

Belong is the refurbished makeover of The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart. Flood and Alan Moulder essentially play the roles of Smilie and Russell Brand’s Dad. The tunes are arguably, to use an ambiguous word, accomplished and the production is undeniably polished. This is a band clearly wanting to jump up a few steps on the ladder and while, for the band, this new sheen might seem like a progression, if the innovation in their sound is essentially a desire to resemble an early 90s indie band that has just been signed to a major label, then they seem to have got their priorities wrong.

Unfortunately, the charm of their humble self-titled debut is missing in unremarkable fare such as ‘Even in Dreams’, which comes across as an indie version of U2’s ‘With Or Without You’, or the dull saunter of ‘Too Tough’. That is not to say that the album, as a whole, is terrible. The vibrant title track evokes the six-stringed onslaught of My Bloody Valentine, while the Ash-like ‘Heart In Your Heartbreak’ is a catchy pop gem. Yet when the best songs are so significantly stacked towards the front of the album, it increasingly feels like the glitter of the production is there to disguise the mediocrity of too many of these tunes.

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