With a background as part of the folksy outfit Veviter, keyboard player / singer Sarah Versrpille and guitar player Daniel Hindman decided no less than a year ago to regroup as Pure Bathing Culture. During the year the duo has caused a stir with the release of two wonderfully elusive singles (both of them featured on this site) , leading up to Moon Tides, their long play debut. The result is a cohesive set of songs, working stylistically as a bridge between Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams” (which they skillfully covered) and Cocteau Twins “Iceblink Luck”, albeit considerably more lo-fi. Either way, rarely is “dream-folk” a more fitting way to describe a band’s aesthetic.
There isn’t a whole lot new under the sun; there are plenty (by the hundreds) of other bands that could be referenced to either Fleetwood or the Twins, but it’s not enough to know your way around chorused guitars or how to layer vocals with reverb to the right amount of effect; in the end all that matters is the songwriting. But as the two foregoing teasers “Pendulum” and “Dream The Dare” revealed, the duo is not without a sheer dose of talent, and on both these occasions, the duo managed to hit right on the spot. Stylistically, most of the songs on Moon Tides follow a similar pattern; a delicate skeletal drum machines, crystalline guitars, hazy keyboard lines; all held together by the fragile folksy voice of Versprille. Unfortunately, albeit equally beautiful on the surface, most of Moon Tides fails to engage in the same obvious manner as the two singles. There are a couple of exceptions, mostly towards the end where the duo manage to pick up the pace; “Golden Girl” is a piece of Beach House-esque heaven, and album closer “Temples of the Moon” is an elusive daydream that doesn’t shy away from an uncanny resemblance to Don Henley’s “The Boys Of Summer”.
The strong opening and stellar closing leaves a rousing momentary effect with a sweet taste of honey on the tip of the tongue. But as much as I like it to be otherwise, the album is similar to a vividly painted canvas that gradually unfolds its beauty as you move further and further away from the object. Unfortunately, after you’ve moved on to the next painting, it fails to leave a lasting impression. As beautifully decorated as Moon Tides may be, there aren’t enough changes in tone, and the lack of dynamics fails to create a spine-tingling effect. Yet, just as Washed Out’s Paracosm, Moon Tides does its part to resonate the wistful mood of summer turning into fall, and there are enough moments to leave you with a fleeting promise of what the duo might one day become.