Pure Bathing Culture - Pure Bathing Culture [EP]
A debut EP is as good a chance as a new band will get to impress. For those who haven't caught them live or given their demo CDs a spin, the more refined and produced EP acts as a declaration of ethos and an explanation as to what's going on, and why the casual music listener should care. But it can be a two way street; some EPs send A&R people in a desperate flurry to sign them onto label deals, whereas others are ignored or dismissed as hype-band landfill.
Unfortunately for Portland duo Pure Bathing Culture (AKA. Daniel Hindman and Sarah Versprille formerly of Devendra Banheart affiliated folk band Velvetier) this debut EP largely misses the mark. The self-titled effort has arguable charm, but no conviction or sense of necessity that a new band needs to pique a listener's interest and encourage further exploration or a following of the group. The music itself is banal, innocuous and largely the same throughout the EPs duration. Immediately from the first track 'Lucky One' the word soft comes to mind; the vocals are soft, the guitar is soft, the lyrics are soft and often downright twee ("Tick tock goes the cuckoo clock, little bird saying don't you stop") This for me takes much of the credibility out of the release which could have otherwise perhaps been saved by good lyrics.
Second track 'Silver Shores Lake' is even more floaty and inoffensive as it plods through the near 5 minute run time with an entirely forgettable melody, sounding tailor-made for a luxury cruise liner advert. Versprille's vocals are pleasant, but sound increasingly bland especially in comparison to artists who make similar music to Pure Bathing Culture. Victoria Legrande of Beach House for example brings huskiness and mystery alongside poignant lyrics about love and longing to her songs, which show up this EP as an almost complete waste of time.
The song 'Ivory Coast' on the other hand, is mildly interesting and enjoyable in the most laid-back background way with some nice guitar work reminiscent of the likes of Real Estate or Tennis. In summation though, this EP isn't bad as such, it just feels incredibly weak in the grander scheme of things and is almost entirely unmemorable even with repeat listens. If you're a fan of music so fleeting that you can listen to it one minute then completely forget it in half an hour, this is for you. If you're in need of an afternoon nap, this is for you. If you are the person that picks the playlist for a Starbucks chain store in the morning, this is for you. If you fit none of the above descriptions, don't bother.