Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Days of Abandon

Right, fair warning: today's blog is just several paragraphs of me gushing about the new Pains of Being Pure at Heart album. I mentioned it briefly in my 2014 halfway report a couple of weeks ago, but now I'm going to really spill my guts. Ready?

OH MY GOSH I LOVE THIS ALBUM. I was pretty keen on TPoBPaH's first two albums, but I think this one tops them both. I was a bit worried when I read that Days of Abandon was softer-sounding than its predecessors, but as much as I like a bit of fuzz and distortion, I like these sounds even more.

While the band's self-tited debut was seemingly just an album about being young, and Belong was an album about being a bit of a misfit, Days of Abandon seems to be a little more focused, conceptually speaking. 'Abandon' is the key word in that title; a lot of these songs deal with themes of loyalty and a lack thereof. For example:

Art Smock
This is one of those gentle opening tracks that seems inconsequential at first - mostly by dint of how quiet it is compared to everything else - but eventually reveals itself to be a really amazing song (think To Sheila from Adore). The lyrics seem to be aimed at some ex-best friend who used to be kind of cool but became a bit pretentious and unlikeable as time went on:

"I liked you better in your art smock, mocking art rock"

It's sort of similar to Anthems for a Seventeen Year-Old Girl by Broken Social Scene.

Between this and Reflektor, Orpheus and Eurydice seem to be rather au fait at the moment, don't they? Eurydice, of course, is the ultimate icon of abandonment - Orpheus lost her to the underworld, and then lost her again on the way out. Here, her name is used as a metaphor for the lover that you just can't hold on to:

"Eurydice! I never stop losing you, losing you"

This is a fun little song that seems to use S&M as an allegory for romantic clinginess:

"Don't set me free"

Life After Life
This is my personal highlight (no offence to Kip Berman - he wrote all of these songs, after all - but I definitely like the ones with the female vocalist best). I think it's about the aftermath of a relationship, the "life after life", and the feeling of disbelief that you get upon realising that life may actually go on:

"I still care about Christian - does he care about me? When I see him around, he looks down, afraid of what he'll see"

It eventually becomes clear that the song's narrator wasn't ready for her relationship with 'Christian' to end. In fact, you might even suggest that she feels - yes - abandoned by him:

"The flowers he gave me have wilted, but I keep them. Like I keep him"

All of this longing is married to a sensational slalom of pop music and MMM it's just delicious. A contender for song of the year, I reckon.

Simple and Sure
I don't know what this one's about but that intro ("Ah-ah-ah, ah-oh-wah ah") does amazing things to me that I can't explain.

Until The Sun Explodes
This is the antidote to all the abandonment on the album - a pledge of undying loyalty, suggesting that happy endings do exist after all:

"I'll stay with you until the sun explodes"

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