Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Matt Oliver, Mastered by Sam Patlove
Kip Berman is quiet, but his band is not. It's a loud, blast fire of a band that, when it plays, will push the loose skin on your face back some, as if you're doing a minor bit of sky-diving. The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart lead singer is surrounded by four other artists, loudly emoting from their chosen spots, all to form a foggy blanket of apprehension, but he's filled with a banging and clanging set of organs as well. The insides of him might be just as loud, keeping him up at night, making him toss and turn and to twist himself in his sheets, through the midnight and early morning hours, unable to just settle in and get himself some good rest. They bring on the cold sweats and they shift inside him like sleeping bears, suddenly jerked awake, cranky and dark-minded. They bellow and fuss and then they lie back down again, lost in another short nap, until the next time, when something startles it and it might not be as nice as it was the last time, for reasons only it will know.
Berman seems hopelessly devoted to the kinds of feelings that leave us spinning tires in the mud and getting worked up about any of the unchangeable aspects of common desire. These are such things as the wants and the dreams that are so naturally implanted in the human bosom that they are tenacious to a fault, guiding us erroneously and impatiently to those very outcomes/wishful outcomes that we know full well are riddled with conditions and fine print. There are hitches and there are provisions to be met and even when they are met, there is no stringent adherence to any of them.
The heart is an outlaw and its stuffing is sneaky and self-serving, even if its track record is mostly one of unsuccessful results. It's an unsuccessful organ, probably the most plagued organ that we each get to take home with us from the hospital. Certainly we're dead without them -- failures as machines - but there are days when we think that we'd be better off without their talkativeness and their insistences. Berman, keyboardist/vocalist Peggy Wang, bassist Alex Naidus, drummer Kurt Feldman and guitarist Christoph Hochheim make the kind of music that salutes these failures and non-failures of the hearts they know best and those that they're imaging, bathing them in a thick wash of resignation that doubles as enabling. It's impossible to deny what those things are going to try to do, so there's no use.