Releasing three albums in four years, Austin four-piece Pure X has shown a lot of promise and even more artistic flexibility.
The band’s fuzzed-out, buzzed-about 2011 debut, Pleasure, was a sweet and simple collection of reverb-heavy ballads of the Jesus and Mary Chain persuasion.
Last year’s follow-up, Crawling Up the Stairs, let those songs bake in the heat of the Mojave Desert for a more feverish take on those same dreamy pop brews.
And Pure X’s latest, Angel … well, this one goes out to the ladies.
“It’s always dudes playing for dudes, so we sort of half-jokingly say we made this for all the girlfriends and wives out there,” drummer Austin Youngblood said of the new album, out this week. “So far, judging from the reaction of the crowds we’re playing for, I think we have succeeded.”
The band is wrapping up a crosscountry jaunt with like-minded indie-poppers Real Estate, and between the pair, romantic, easy listening has never sounded cooler.
Melding breezy melodies, R&B-divined vocals and some particularly lush 12-string acoustic guitar strums, the album probably owes as much to America or The Everly Brothers as Pavement. It marks new, sandy beaches for a band whose sound heard on Pleasure was born between metallic walls.
“We were rehearsing in a tin storage unit when we started out,” Youngblood said. “Before we even added the reverb, that sound was just naturally present when we played together.”
That sound was amped up with Crawling Up the Stairs, a paranoid, psychedelic collection of songs written while singer/guitarist Nate Grace recovered from a severe skateboarding injury.
Pure X — appearing in Oklahoma City on Wednesday, April 9 — stands proud of the record but was also worried it might give the wrong impression of the band’s true sound. So they decided to churn out another record as quick as possible.
Finding a new home on Fat Possum Records (Al Green, Youth Lagoon) was the perfect boost. Reinvigorated, the band set off working on new material while still out on the road in support of Crawling, putting the finishing touches on it in 2013 and then recording in a massive,100-year-old rural Texas dance hall last fall. To finish Angel’s mixing, mastering, production and artwork took about 20 weeks.
It was a relatively fast process, but early indications would suggest the quality didn’t suffer. In fact, Angel might be the band’s best album to date.
“This time, we just wanted to focus on the songwriting, and it was really quick and natural,” Youngblood said. “This record is looking up and looking forward … it’s an ethereal mindset.”