Just caught a local group called Hume—I’m assuming the name check is David rather than Britt, but who can be sure?—and have spent the last 24 hours listening to their maddeningly brief album Hume Presents the Phat Daughter String Quartet pretty much nonstop, though it actually sounds very little like the stringless (but excellent) band I saw. They wear their influences on their sleeves a bit on the record—you can tell that the vocalist is wildly into Smart Went Crazy, the string players cut their teeth on Charles Ives and Kronos Quartet, and they all had Rise Above on repeat while they were cutting the album—but they’ve got a weird alchemy that makes it sound fresh and utterly charming even when they’re flirting with homage. (It helps if you happen to also like everyone they’re quoting.) Somehow, they manage to make a B-side of dub remixes of all that work too. They’re all terrifyingly young, and as the range of tracks on their MySpace page shows, quite versatile. There, too, you get a sense that they’re trying on sounds a bit, but if this is the larval stage I can’t wait to see what bursts from the chrysalis.
Speaking of anxiety of influence, where does a band get the chutzpah to put out this track and then omit The Smiths from the “influences” section of their Web page? Seriously? But it’s easy to give The Pains of Being Pure at Heart a pass insofar as they also seem to share The Smiths’ knack for knocking out irresistibly hooky pop numbers with a facility that suggests they’re constitutionally incapable of writing bad song. Why they’re playing the Black Cat’s backstage when they’re plainly more appealing than about 98 percent of the acts that hit the mainstage—hitting that sweet spot of music that’s totally accessible but still interesting—is a mystery I may never solve. But I plan to hustle and grab tickets before someone circulates a memo.