At first glance, the image appeared to be just another photo, the kind of day-to-day self-documenting that floods online interactions these days: A young man sitting on a chair holding a guitar against bare white walls. Around him are keyboards, amps, and other equipment. It could have been anyone: someone showing off their New York apartment; a music major posing in his first dorm room; a musician simply looking pensive in the studio. Looking a little closer, the caption explained it all. It was singer/guitarist Kip Berman from The Pains of Being Pure at Heart in a studio in London, and he was working on his band's next LP.
In this age of smartphones and social media, bands have to find innovative and clever ways to generate buzz. The New York-based band, who takes their name from a short story written by Berman's friend, embraced this and announced their newest album via Instagram.
"I wasn't intending on announcing it that way," remarks Berman.
Either way, the 10 tracks making up Days of Abandon officially make their way into the world on May 13, but those attending the band's show at the Crescent Ballroom on May 10 will be among the first to hear the group's third album in a great live setting.
"[Playing the new songs] has been great," Berman beams. "We haven't toured in a couple of years."
Their latest effort is produced by engineer Andy Savours, whose credits include The Killers, PJ Harvey, and Goldfrapp. By bringing someone with Savours' credentials into the studio, it's clear that the band has made a deliberate departure from their 2009 full-length debut, which was acclaimed for being a welcome throwback to the noise pop of the early '90s, with earnest lyrics and awesome hooks.
"I don't know where the line between engineering and producing is but he's a really smart human being to hang out with for a month," Berman describes, "He added some peppiness and a lot of vocal elements with some great ideas for harmonies. It really feels playful and life-affirming in a really good way."
Listening to "Eurydice," the latest single released from the new record, it appears that the band has given their sound a heavy coat of shoe-gaze sheen. There are nuanced keyboards and clever harmonies that didn't seem possible four years ago when the buzz around the band's noise-pop debut was so deafening no one heard the backlash. This progress can be attributed to both Berman's growing maturity as a musician and his decision to surround himself with a group of experienced musicians who helped the band realize their potential.
"I hope I'm still on my musical journey," Berman says, "I always feel I can do better. We haven't quite realized a reason for existing as a band quite yet. I'm thrilled to be doing this."
Early tour reviews indicate that the band continues to improve live, so expect an adventure for both the eyes and the ears. Be sure to tell them how the show was, as afterward, Berman will be doing a special DJ set at Obscura Dance Night at Rips Bar.
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