11.22.2015 — “Laid” as covered by The Pains of Being Pure at Heart


If you only listen to one cover song today, make it “Laid”, as covered by The Pains of Being Pure at Heart (2015, from the “Hell” single). The song was originally done by James, as the title track from their wildly successful 1993 album. That album, the band’s fifth, was their breakthrough album on this side of the Atlantic, largely due to the fact that “Laid” was massive on college radio and on MTV.

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart is an indie-pop/noise pop sextet from New York City. They’re commonly refered to as TPOBPAH, or as The Pains. Sextet, quintet. I don’t really know. It changes from time to time. As does their style. On their first two records, they were decidedly noisy, owing their sound to the influence of 90s UK shoegaze. On their 2014 album Days of Abandon, frontman Kip Berman made a very deliberate shift in order to avoid making the same record over and over. Days of Abandon is much poppier, treading into the neighbourhood of jangle-pop, influenced by some of the late 80s and early 90s UK indie pop bands.

For today’s purposes, they’re a sextet. Jen Goma, who is also a star in A Sunny Day in Glasgow is an occasional member of The Pains. She takes the vocal lead on this song, and knocks it out of the park.

Over the years, I’ve heard a bunch of covers of this song. Some have been terrible, and others very good. This is, by far, my favorite. I like the original version very much, but I think I like this even better.

“Laid” as covered by The Pains of Being Pure at Heart

I really like that they didn’t …um… mess around with gender roles. It’s just a straight-up cover. They left the “she only comes when she’s on top” line in. And instead of changing the lyric to “Mess around with gender roles, dress me up in men’s clothes”, they kept it true to the original “Mess around with gender roles, dress me up in women’s clothes”. In the end, I think that Tim Booth’s voice may be a bit more expressive in the original, but I still love what Goma and The Pains are doing here. The one change that I really like is that at the very end, where the original closes with Booth wailing out “Laiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiid” a couple of times, Goma goes back to the “Aw, you think you’re so pretty” line to close their version of the song.

Here’s a video of The Pains performing this song

The “Hell” single features the title song, which is an original, plus “Ballad of The Band”, which is a Felt cover, and this. You can get it from Amazon, or eMu, or iTunes. Just get it. It’s great.

About dlee

North Carolina born and bred. I'm a restaurant guy who spends free time listening to music, watching hockey and playing Scrabble. I have a bachelor's degree in political science and I will most likely never put it to use. View all posts by dlee

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