For musicians, it’s an inevitable reality that at some point, you’re going to whore yourself out on social media, and that’s totally understandable. But it’s always great when a band can build a following solely through word of mouth and praise for the music. Such was the case with CR favorite Pure X and their debut Pleasure. I’ll spare you the labeling Pure X’s music typically receives like “dreamy,” “gazey,” and all that other P4K synesthetic-adjective nonsense, but if anything were an indication of the Austin band’s sound at the time, it would be the album cover – a red rose, chains, and leather cuffs (as if the album’s lushness wasn’t sensual enough). But when a group of guys as elusive and opposed to social media (the band just now joined FB) as Pure X makes such an alluring record, only to return to obscurity, it’s easy for anticipation of a follow-up to turn into, “what happened to that band?”
We can safely say the guys aren’t pulling an “m b v”. A year-and-a-half in the making, Crawling Up The Stairs is what comes from a year of turmoil: physical injury, financial struggle, anguish, uncertainty – but ultimately results in a more refined, mature Pure X. While many attribute their name to the trip-inducing quality of Pure X’s former sound, Crawling informs “X” as a variable for change, though the band stays true to their convictions of purity: recording the album onto two-inch tape then mixing it to 1/4-inch, returning to analog synths and effects, but also introducing more organic instrumentation and significantly cleaner recording.
The album’s first single, “Things In My Head”, hits it off with a strummed acoustic, Austin Youngblood’s signature sparse-yet-exact drumming, shrill synth, and features some beautifully haunting falcetto from bassist Jesse Jenkins (this isn’t his first go-around) accented by Nate Grace’s flanged guitar lines. It’s both psychedelic and gothic (think Echo & The Bunnymen), a sound that, unbeknownst to us, was alluded by Austin cohort/CR Comp contributor Sleep ∞ Over. But perhaps what is most peculiar if not terribly exciting is the new cowboy influence this band of texans seems to have embraced. If this catches on, it’ll only be a matter of time before terminology like “cowboy-wave,” “new-cowboy,” “post-cowboy,” and “boot-gaze” enter the blogosphere lexicon.