Hugs and Kisses 68: Factory Floor and The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart


This week, another installment of Hugs and Kisses from Brisbane-based Everett True, author of Nirvana: The Biography (da Capo Press) — another book about one of the most overrated bands of the Nineties. Not content with pissing off his own locals, this week he’s taking aim at ours.

Hugs and Kisses

The Relocated Outbursts of Everett True

This week: Factory Floor and The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, “Come Saturday” (MP3)
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, “Everything With You” (MP3)

Listen to this, the man says — and sends me a few music files.

So I do. Both bands are very retro. Is that why he’s asking me to listen? I am indeed older than many who comment regularly upon such music. I like Factory Floor a lot, in an early, um Factory Records way (do you see what they’ve done there?), but the whole time I’m listening to their sinister, late Seventies, chilled electronica with its disembodied voice and hints of proto-noise band This Heat, I’m fervently hoping that the lads — cos they’re obviously lads, cos only lads could be this serious — are from Istanbul or Beirut, not Williamsburg or Cardiff, because otherwise it’s more than a little inexplicable why they’re exploring the same avenues that were so thoroughly covered 30 years back. Although I guess three decades is another lifetime, and just cos I’m old I shouldn’t … grumble, grumble.

And then I discover that Factory Floor are from London or thereabouts, and it just seems weird that such reputable sources as should be tipping them as a band to watch. But fuck it: I like these mechanical beats and stentorian vocals and the aura of dark foreboding and the fact Factory Floor sing about model aircraft kits as around the world threatens, but… may I point you in the direction of this?

Don’t get me wrong. Right now, I prefer Factory Floor to Joy Division (mostly because I was never able to listen to JD again after Ian Curtis’ death), and I welcome the fact someone is filling in all the old shapes with new discomforting shadows, but. They are still the same boxes: dusty with under-use and a little shabby and turned up at the corners after all these years, but the same boxes nonetheless.

The other band I feel more ambivalent about. Those cutie shoes always were a tight fit on my two left feet, and though I certainly waxed contrary in my fondness for both Morrissey and Gene during the Nineties, I never liked The Smiths the first time round, so don’t feel the need for a new version to appear every few years. And The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart are so clearly aping the past! Their first two MySpace influences are listed as The Pastels and Ramones — yeah, with most of the personality sucked out — and their music is a crystal-perfect copy of Sarah Records, early Smiths (but not imperfect enough). I mean, their sleeves even recall the cheaply photocopied fanzines that my friends and I would make in the mid-Eighties (because we had no choice!).

And they’re from New York. I’m sorry, but that’s just wrong. Listen to that accent! In my day, at least covers bands had the decency to call themselves something that gave the game away, like the Australian Pink Floyd or The Bootleg Beatles.

Look, they’re fine: if cutie is your kick then you might well love them. I’m sorry to be harsh, but I’ve heard this particular song too many times before. The box has become treacherously shiny and slippery through overuse.