The indie-pop style, as exemplified by NME’s C86 cassette, will never really be in or out of fashion. The sugar sweetness of its typical boy-girl call and response will always be catchy, and the fuzzy production and hyper cuteness of the style’s meek vocals will always be off-putting enough to prevent it from catching on with a mainstream audience. Many of the sub-genre’s practitioners are defiantly static, evolving only a few inches from their influences with as much rigidity as hardcore punks. But where is a category of music designed to provide pure melody and easy likability without dumbing things down to go? It seems the question of innovation is almost moot here. Did the band write a good song and perform it well?
On that last question, New York’s The Pains of Being Pure at Heart get a resounding yes. This song could have been released any time in the last twenty years, true, but it would have been plucked for copious mix-tape mash notes in all of them. Yes, this will sound very familiar to fans who’ve absorbed Rough Trade’s excellent Indie Pop compilation, or indeed the original C86 document itself, but it would have been a standout on either. It’s just good.