Pure X have lost their cool, and it's magnificent. The Austin band's music has contained traces of darkness ever since they were releasing singles under the name Pure Ecstasy, culminating so far in 2011's stoned-immaculate Pleasure. But the molten-reverbed surfaces of their patiently unwinding songs have tended to be so richly pristine that it could be hard to guess much about the human beings behind it.
That kind of style-versus-substance talk is hard to sustain anyway, and "Someone Else" should demolish it for this band once and for all. "Things in My Head," the first single from Pure X's sophomore album Crawling Up the Stairs (out in North America on May 14 via Acéphale), was a real but modest progression for the group, slightly cleaning up their hazy, laid-back sound and evolving from "DWLDWD" ("Don't wanna live, don't wanna die") to #yolo ("We're only here for a short time). This follow-up single is their grandest gesture yet, taking the pain-as-pleasure subtext of the debut to a surprising extreme: a section of raw, cracking vocals you'd expect more from Bright Eyes or Titus Andronicus.
"Come on, break me," singer-guitarist Nate Grace begins, over weathered synths and an understated bass groove, and after a couple of ominously languid verses, break his voice does: "You know I've earned it / So come on, give me all your love," he howls. But there's also clear-blue falsetto, and a soaring, cowboy-space-rock climax that shows why this guitar band belongs alongside electronic-utopian labelmates like CFCF, Elite Gymnastics, and Air France. And then, right before the song blasts off: "A taste just ain't enough." You could still call it slack, but they've earned all the love they'll get.
Pure X tour dates:
May 1 - Fort Worth, TX @ Live Oak
May 4 - Chicago, IL @ Beat Kitchen
May 7 - Toronto @ The Silver Dollar
May 8 - Montreal @ Lambi
May 10 - Burlington, VT @ Higher Ground Showcase Lounge
May 11 - Boston, MA @ Great Scott
May 12 - Hamden, CT @ Outer Space
May 14 - New York, NY @ Mercury
May 15 - Brooklyn, NY @ 285 Kent Avenue
May 16 - Baltimore, MD @ Ottobar
May 17 - Chapel Hill, NC @ Local 506
May 18 - Atlanta, GA @ Drunken Unicorn
May 20 - Oxford, MS @ Lamar Lounge
May 21 - New Orleans, LA @ Circle Bar
May 23 - Austin, TX @ Holy Mountain Ticket Info
May 24 - Houston, TX @ Fitzgerald's (w/ Black Angels)
May 25 - Dallas, TX @ Granada Theater (w/ Black Angels)
May 26 - San Antonio, TX @ White Rabbit (w/ Black Angels)