I Opened Up My Eyes…
It only makes sense that a band called Pure X would produce dreamy rock-noise-pop music. After a hellish year of physical injuries, long breakups and long-distance communication amongst band members, the three-piece from Austin display a smarter, crisper sound in their full-length sophomore album, Crawling Up The Stairs. They’ve dropped most (but not all) of the fuzz and reverb from their lo-fi debut album, and added more keys, synth, and overall diversity of sound to the second.
Vocalist Nate Grace may be the most obvious example of exploration on C.U.T.S. His singing doesn’t sound the same on any of the album’s twelve tracks. It goes from exploring everything with his low, petrifying, and a little Conor Oberst-esque howls in “Someone Else” to being masked by heavy synthesizers that distort the vocals to produce incomprehensible lyrics on follow-up track “Written in the Slime.”
Despite his display in range, Grace wouldn’t be much without bassist Jessie Jenkins, drummer Austin Youngblood and engineer Stephen Orsak. The three manage to find a pleasant groove with each other in about every song, most notably in “Rain at Dawn,” with the keys turned up and the drums turned down, and in “Never Alone,” where Grace’s vocals faintly follow along with everything else. And “I Fear What I Feel” was recorded live for the record and has everyone switching instruments, including Grace on bass and Jenkins on vocals, with accompaniment from a few of their friends.
C.U.T.S. is an easy album to recommend. It’s got a smart mix of soothing smoothness and noted despair that sets a particular mood. Pure X do not seem like they’re done exploring, though. At least, they shouldn’t be.