Album Review: Pure Bathing Culture - Moon Tides

Album Reviews
Gerrit Feenstra

"It's your natural place", Sarah Versprille whispers, as the steady groove of "Scotty" beckons you on to the wonderful b-side of Pure Bathing Culture's debut record, Moon Tides. It sounds like she could be singing to David Hindman, the other half of Pure Bathing Culture, who is responsible for the spacey, 70s groove that gives her a backing track. It all feels so natural that you would think it took little to no effort at all. The rest of Moon Tides follows in this similarly soothing and sympathetic fashion. This year, Pure Bathing Culture is soon to become a household term. Bringing a unique twist of 70s rock and folk in the style of Fleetwood Mac to the exploding dream pop wave of the last two years, they’ve crafted a really excellent record here. Moon Tides is destined to be one of the most relaxing and quietly rewarding offerings of the year.

If the Fleetwood comparison sounds familiar, it’s because the band has some slight ties to highly influential rock group. For Mojo Magazine’s Rumours Revisited compilation (a collection of modern interpretations of tracks off of the Fleetwood Mac classic), Pure Bathing Culture got perhaps the most coveted position on the list. Their cover of “Dreams” is marvelous. It might be Versprille’s vocal similarities to Stevie Nicks. Or, it could be the way that Hindman’s track marvelously updates the dreamscape nature of the original to the band’s own hazy, surreal atmosphere. But Pure Bathing Culture truly require no cover credentials or comparison for the sake of enjoyment. Moon Tides takes the sound the band introduced to us on their self-titled EP on Father Daughter Records and gives it the perfect pop accessibility it needed. The result is a luscious, liquid sound with as much vintage groove as there is forward room to ponder.

“If I could, I’d go back and find you”, Versprille sings on “Twins”, as if looking into the past to dig for another buried treasure to bring back to the present. Her and Hindman are rich with tradition and respect for their predecessors – Hindman’s unbelievably gorgeous guitar lines tell this truth more than anything. Tracks like this are like bedtime stories of magical days past. The duo spin some pretty lush tales in these 38 minutes. The lead single “Pendulum” gives us one dream pop hook to end them all, while “Dream The Dare” walks a fine line between reserved self-reflection and sincere emotional explosion, creating one of the most beautiful tracks on the record. Later on the record, we see that Pure Bathing Culture aren’t solely stuck on the 70s. “Seven 2 One” and “Golden Girl” both beg to explode into 80s R&B ballads, but the band’s quiet sense of reserve wins over, resulting in even more euphoric melancholy.

Pure Bathing Culture haven’t necessarily brought anything brand new to the table, but the collection of what they have brought, and in which arrangement, is what makes them a standout act and worth your time. Moon Tides is a delightful offering from beginning to end. It is short, sweet, and memorable, with its endless shimmering guitar lines and the constant muse of Sarah Verprille’s vintage voice. Here, Pure Bathing Culture couldn’t have done any better a job introducing themselves. That’s not an easy thing to do in 2013.

Pure Bathing Culture is out now on CD and vinyl. Catch the band at their Chop Suey show in support of the record on October 23.

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