Release Date: Apr 1, 2014
Record label: Fat Possum
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Rock, Lo-Fi, Noise Pop
So here we arrive, four years in, to the third chapter of Pure X. As their covers now seem to illustrate, this a band that works in deliberate miniature but in the most restless possible fashion. Part I (Pleasure) was the drugs and the decor, sluggish and sublime. It didn’t hit a wrong note or tone, and it refused to wear out its welcome.
Pure X have always been adept at creating atmosphere within their records. Each of their previous two albums have been defined by an enveloping, psychedelic intensity as the Texans established their own serene, yet powerful brand of blissed-out rock. The band, newly expanded to a four piece, has distilled their sound even further to its purest natural form on their third album ‘Angel.’Much of Pure X’s previous music was informed by the torpor of incessant touring; their previous album ‘Crawling Up The Stairs’ was a dark reflection on mortality prompted by singer Nate Grace’s medical issues.
When I interviewed Pure X last year - if you can get away with describing an email Q&A as such - the answers I received were in all-caps, with an apparently deliberately eccentric approach to spelling and punctuation. Something about the sheer weirdness of it seemed to fit neatly with the record they were promoting, Crawling Up the Stairs; one of last year’s most criminally-overlooked full-lengths, it was a tense, paranoid affair, with frontman Nate Grace eschewing singing in favour of alternating between wailing and howling. The guitars were relentlessly menacing, and most tracks came with an unsettling swirl of rumbling background noise.
Angel, the third album by Austin’s Pure X, is lackadaisical in its tempos and moods, coming on at an almost laughably leisurely pace. A chiming electric guitar chord, as well as some actual chimes, make for a half minute of aural sage-burning to introduce the opening track “Starlight”. From there, the album is an intricate but not overwrought construction of clean, twinkly tones that distills George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass, the more gently decadent moments of the T.
It’s only been three years since Pure X’s stunningly hazy Pleasure, yet I’d never be able to guess that that band and this band behind Angel were one and the same. Here, the songs are still draped in some kind of fog, but rather than reveling in the mystery, they are melancholic, tired and stuck in endless repetition. While Pleasure and C.U.T.S.
No doubt by the time you read this you have already figured out, either through firsthand experience or timelier reviews, that the Pure X that put out this high pitched sugar fest can scarcely be compared to the Pure X that put out the fuzzy dream invader Pleasure. You've already read/heard the comparisons to T-Rex, or Fleetwood Mac or something else suitably Seveties-ish (then again, maybe that falsetto reminds you of Prince). You are also au courant with Pure X's decision to shun ye olde recording studio in favour of ye evyn older 'rustic'.
Pure X used to be a drone-rock band. Following 2013’s fractured ‘Crawling Up The Stairs’, ‘Angel’ shows the Texans taking another step away from the density of their 2011 debut ‘Pleasure’. They’re now defined by cascading, heart-shaped soft rock – or, as singer Nate Grace puts it on the album’s third track ‘Livin’ The Dream’, they have “fallen into a dream”.
Austin, Texas atmospheric rockers Pure X grew up fast on their 2013 album, Crawling Up the Stairs. That album, their second, saw the trio surrounded by tumultuous personal events such as injury, relocation, heartbreak, and financial dread, and those trying times came through loud and clear in the heavier, world-weary songs. As much as Crawling Up the Stairs was a sharp right turn from the band's beautifully murky, live-to-tape debut Pleasure, third album Angel moves just as drastically in a different direction from its predecessor.
There are few bands who come right out of the gate with a fully-formed idea, some basic concept on which to base their sound. For most bands, the beginning of a career is a mishmash of ideas thrown together until everyone involved can figure out what works and what doesn’t. This wasn’t the case with Austin’s Pure X, whose debut album Pleasure stands as one of the best albums I’ve heard in the past few years.
opinion byMICHAEL WOJTAS Angel, the third album from Austin’s Pure X, arrives less than a year after the claustrophobic, willfully difficult Crawling Up the Stairs. It was recorded in the pastoral ambiance of a remote, century-old dance hall in the band’s native state. The record features weepy string embellishments, plenty of slide guitar and a litany of song titles (“Valley of Tears,” “Wishin’ On the Same Star”) that could have been pillaged from any dust-covered honky-tonk compilation buried deep in thrift store vinyl stacks.
Pure X Angel (Fat Possum) Too many bands are content to hide behind reverb, obscuring all meaning and direction with effects pedals. Pure X's 2011 full-length, Pleasure, trafficked in smoke and mirrors, while last year's Crawling up the Stairs made only lateral moves, awakening awkwardly from hazy slumbers in a panicked cold sweat that clashed with the overall mellow vibes. After a year on the road and now a quartet, these Austinites finally step into the light on Angel.