Belong - The Pains of Being Pure at Heart
Metascore
76

Generally favorable reviews - based on 29 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 22 out of 29
  2. Negative: 1 out of 29
  1. Apr 15, 2011
    93
    The 10-track set barely has a weak moment and actually ends too soon. It's like '90s alt-rock had a child who suddenly grew up beautiful.
  2. Mar 29, 2011
    90
    Polished studio effects notwithstanding, Belong's truest charms remain the songs themselves. [Apr 2011, p.115]
  3. 83
    The Brooklyn noise-pop fetishists are finally crafting songs substantial enough to withstand repeated listens and justify their devotion to guileless twee. [8 Apr 2011, p.59]
  4. Mar 29, 2011
    83
    More than anything, Belong shows ambition, with The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart clearly aiming for something bigger--a bigger sound, maybe a bigger audience. It nailed the sound part. A larger audience seems inevitable.
  5. Apr 1, 2011
    82
    Belong is a bigger, bolder, and brighter follow-up that adds new dimensions to the Pains' sound while nearly equaling the songwriting of their debut.
  6. May 18, 2011
    80
    This is an album that stands up to the touchstone indie classics it references. [May 2011, p.112]
  7. May 10, 2011
    80
    This only falls flat when you want more - and that aside, Belong really is a good album.
  8. Their last album was a solid shoegazing experience, but here, there's just something special about the progression of their songwriting and pop instrumentation that feels just right and the band seems to be comfortable with their own music, like they finally seem to belong.
  9. Apr 5, 2011
    80
    The transition is subtle - the reconstituted tracks of Belong remain vehicles for near-perfect pop melodies, gentle self-deprecation, and wistful sentiments
  10. Mar 28, 2011
    80
    Really, they show a lot on Belong -- that they can take their sound to the next level, that they haven't lost any of their good-natured band-next-door charm, and most of all, that they can make a great-sounding modern rock album without selling their souls.
  11. Mar 28, 2011
    80
    When it comes down to it, though, I can look at the track list and sing you back the most important lyric in any song. If pop music is meant to create a shared experience, consider this album a success on a whole bunch of levels.
  12. Mar 28, 2011
    80
    Despite the heartbreak overtones, Belong is not a depressing or down-tempo album. It remains upbeat and concludes in a manner that ties up the loose ends of the story, all while raiding your new-wave album collection for inspiration.
  13. Mar 28, 2011
    80
    It's an irresistible confection, a document of cherry-flavoured kisses, of social inadequacy, of general brow-beaten oddities captured in the most wide-eyed romantic monologue this side of a teenage Tumblog.
  14. Mar 28, 2011
    80
    Generally speaking, everything about Belong is shiner and more romantic than the last album; if The Pains of Being Pure at Heart depicted an eternal Saturday in the lives of a few sensitive American teenagers, Belong catches those same kids dolled up for a perpetual prom night.
  15. Mar 25, 2011
    80
    For Belong, they step up in class with producers Flood and Alan Moulder, who have overseen alt-classics from Depeche Mode's Violator to PJ Harvey's To Bring You My Love.
  16. Mar 25, 2011
    80
    A consistent second album of big choruses from the New Yorkers.
  17. 80
    They definitely sound like more of a band now, merging their despairing lyrics and indie pop demeanor with an alternative grunge that's certainly worthy of praise, perhaps even more now than ever before.
  18. Apr 1, 2011
    74
    After all, the Pains of Being Pure at Heart never promised reinvention, and Belong is another solid soundtrack to summer afternoons lounging on bedspreads, making collages, flashing back to one's own days as a teenage outcast-however far in the past they may be.
  19. Apr 5, 2011
    70
    Put simply, The Pains...are a pop band with songs about young love and teenage misadventure.
  20. Mar 29, 2011
    70
    Not so much Teenage Fanclub as 'Loveless'-era MBV meets classic Cure at their poppiest.
  21. Mar 29, 2011
    70
    Its sound is now massive enough to match its big-hearted emotion.
  22. Mar 29, 2011
    63
    Berman and his bandmates also play more purposefully here than they did on their debut, as though the bigger arrangements finally provided the shy-guy contrast they'd been looking for. Their move toward muscle feels genuine.
  23. Jul 21, 2011
    60
    The slick production values and mighty arena-filling guitar and drum sounds will jolt fans of the New York City band's charming lo-fi debut.
  24. Jun 8, 2011
    60
    You get a sense that The Pains Of Being Pure At heart are only kind of serious and it;'s this half-seriousness that makes the band's brand of wounded-bastard-twee-pop so very irresistible. [May 2011, p.86]
  25. Mar 30, 2011
    60
    The album's lows remain limp and strangely clinical, making its true promise all the more disappointing.
  26. Mar 29, 2011
    60
    The Pains of Being Pure at Heart have retained most of what we loved about them while also finding new ways to dazzle us, to make us swoon.
  27. Mar 25, 2011
    60
    The Pains of Being Pure at Heart opt to adapt, drafting in producer Flood and mixer Alan Moulder to polish and shine their second album.
  28. May 18, 2011
    40
    Only the title track, with its surge of guitar fuzz, really matches the idea with the execution. [May 2011, p.120]
  29. 30
    Undersexed and over here, let's send them back to where they, indeed, belong.
User Score
8.2

Universal acclaim- based on 19 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 3 out of 4
  2. Negative: 0 out of 4
  1. Apr 4, 2011
    9
    When I saw it for the first time, I loved almost everything - the name of the band, the cover, but I was a bit afraid that it might sound much worse than I expected. But fortunately it's quite the opposite. It sounds like it was recorded by your closest friends who liked the same music as you and tried one day to juxtapose all of you favourite bands in one album. If I tried to record the album of my dream, i wish it would be like that. It has the loneliness of the Smiths, the sensitive aplomb of shoegaze and the bright senses of the Drums. I'm almost sure that this album undoubtedly would be a classic after a while, and you would need to share your feelings with thousands of someone else, so take a chance and listen it before that sad moment. Full Review »
  2. Jun 10, 2012
    5
    Let me get this straight: I'm really the only person here capable of hearing the defects with Belong? Really? I'm not going to say anything nasty about The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart. They are a good band and are nice people and play a good live show (and one of my friends is an old roommate of singer Kip Berman), etc. TPOBPAH also made me wonder if we weren't entering into a surprise tweepop millennium when their eponymous full length gained its original megahype. Campesinos! aside, The Pains were really our new twee masters in 2008/9. But Belong is in no way the record the eponymous LP was. Especially coming off the extraordinary high water mark of the Higher Than The Stars 12" (specifically the digital only remixes of the songs). What happened? I've suspended judgment for more than a year. The results are that I can now stomach the excessive production values and guitar crunch (feedback, fuzz, reverb = good; Smashing Pumpkins, 1995 crunch = not good). I can handle the essential sameness of the songs (all the B-Sides from the first full length were equally same-y). But while the eponymous LP made me euphoric and wistful for fuzzy Britpop, Belong makes me remember how out of place dream pop was when it would spring up randomly in the 90s. (Belong's title track sounds more than a little like Primitive Radio Gods's "Standing In A Broken Phone Booth..." I know it's incidental. Still... It does.) But, all crankiness and feelings of betrayal aside, Beyond (the album, not the song) grows on you after a year. I'm not mad or hurt anymore. Moreover, I'm confident TPOBPAH can reprise their initial burst of momentum, break this sophomore slump, and release a great third album when the time comes. Full Review »
  3. Mar 14, 2012
    8
    Second album from the fantastically named indie band. Although its similar in style to their debut, overall it shows progression. The production is better, the vocals are a bit clearer and the songs are stronger. Their first album reminded me of the Smiths, but this time they remind me a bit of The Cure. There are plenty of upbeat Indie rockers on this and it's a really enjoyable album. Their sound isn't exactly original and I can't say the band excite me that much, but there is something about their music that's really positive and really attracts me to them. Heavens Gonna Happen Now, Heart in Your Heartbreak and My Terrible Friend (the closest thing to a cover of The Cures "In Between Days" you'll ever hear) are all great tracks and are the kind of tracks that you'd find on those Teen Summer Film soundtracks that are usually so much better than the films themselves. Having said all that, they could do with some variation as well. Full Review »