Pain Disappears reveals the death of a relationship, which, as always, takes place behind closed doors. The outward signs suggest everything is fine: the wistful single ‘Always You’ and the Ewan Pearson mix that tugged our heart strings late last year; the album’s happy-ever-after title; even its production presents a united front. Caro and Garcia share vocal duties throughout, singing every line side by side as if they were one being. (Granted, a being that can't really sing, but they're carrying on the great French tradition of vocalists whose accent far outweighs their ability, from Serge Gainsbourg to Miss Kittin.) The couple’s double-edged voice is supported by instruments that chime in together, like the twin guitars of ‘Dead Souls’, which reinforce this atmosphere of absolute harmony. But the lyrics tell a different story…
“Dead souls are shouting,
Melancholy is my wife,
Angels are dying,
Love hurts like a knife”
…and all against a backdrop of sheer sonic positivity: the whimsy of early Air, the warm organics of neo-kraut rockers Fujiya & Miyagi and the welling-up emotions of the best haus Berlin has to offer. This juxtaposition of the gleeful and the glum betrays an adolescent delight for wallowing in misery, the reveling in the rollercoaster ride of a teenage crush. As the chorus for ‘Dead Souls’ declares without a hint of irony, “Alright! What a great life”.
This is a romantics’ record. Aside from a micro-house mid-section bolstered by the instrumentals ‘Lost’ and ‘No Name’, Pain Disappears won’t move dancefloors. But if you’re of the right (overly?) emotional state, it can find a place in your heart. If you’ve ever swayed to The Smiths at an indie disco, drunk and alone, or secretly enjoyed having your heart broken, then this is for you. No doubt Ben Watt has done all that and grinned through the tears, but if devotees of his label don’t have the same sentimental streak, this affair could be over before it’s even begun.