Clipboard01The debut album from The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, released earlier this year, was a joy. Wearing its influences proudly on its sleeve, contributing nothing new to its genre, but still sounding fresh, bouncing and brilliant. The sort of album I fall in love with. It was, however, an album with a one track mind, very rarely deviating from its basic noise-pop template. It was therefore doubtable that The Pains would be able to sustain a credible career if they stuck to this template.It’s encouraging then that the Higher than the Stars EP has seen The Pains approach a slightly new direction. Don’t get me wrong, they haven’t thrown everything out of the window and started again, but there’s enough here to suggest that the Pains have creativity beyond what we originally thought. The EP is still as retro as hell, but its influence has shifted an iota to ape the work of bands such as The Field Mice. Everything I (and possibly you) originally loved about The Pains is still intact, but the group have changed just enough to keep them interesting. Title track 'Higher than the Stars' is a brilliant demonstration of the talent that Kip Berman and crew have. Easily up there with the best songs that the Pains have produced it bounces along with a self assured glow, with Kip Berman’s tender faux-British accent floating over the top. Later reproduced in a brilliant remix (Saint Etienne visits Lord Spank), than strips the song down so it’s almost unrecognisable, becoming more of a dance floor filler, than a possible indie-pop classic. The rest of the EP is just as solid as anything else the band have ever produced, not magically enlightening stuff, but highly enjoyable in its simplicity.People who didn’t like the Pains the first time round will find nothing to convert them here, the group are still pretty much the same. But their enchanted followers will be delighted with another strong effort from the group, and their praises should be rightly sung.

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