Search The Line of Best Fit
Search The Line of Best Fit

Tarot Sport: Pure Bathing Culture explore the far reaches of the universe in their second album

"Pray For Rain"

Release date: 23 October 2015
Pure Bathing Culture Pray For Rain
29 October 2015, 10:48 Written by James Appleyard
How’s your knowledge of twentieth century existential poetry?

If you’re anything like me, you’ll know just enough to squeeze through a specialist round at a local pub quiz. But if you’re anything like Pure Bathing Culture, you’d be able to slam dunk some serious knowledge at Paxman during a marathon University Challenge session.

Since their formation in 2012, Sarah Versprille and Daniel Hindman have made a habit of producing erudite pop music, and have reaped the benefits of formatting their sound firmly in dream pop realm. But with their second album Pray For Rain, the band have ditched the 'dream' and headed more towards the 'pop'. Recruiting producer du jour John Congleton, as well as opting for a live rhythm section, as opposed to employing a series of ones and zeros as with their previous album, Pure Bathing Culture have managed to enhance their sound and have emphatically energised their ethos.

Opening track “The Tower” nods towards Versprille and Hindman’s penchant for the astrological. The Tower is the card in a tarot deck that portents impending and sudden catastrophe, and for a song about the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines flight 370, is pretty apt. But if your expecting tonal pessimism, you’re going to be surprised. The track harbours bright melodic interweaving of Hindman’s guitar work and Versprille’s lilting vocals that resonate with aquamarine soul.

The title track undulates with a mile high wobble of middle distance synths underpinning a sheen of melodic guitar and bouncing rhythms. It seems as though Congleton’s deft hand has brought with it some of the schizophrenic pop tendencies of his previous work with St Vincent. And this is something that pays off in a big way.

“Palest Pearl” delivers a Casio friendly hit of lo-fi disco, but lyrically serves as a response to twentieth century poet and feminist thinker Hilda Doolittle’s 1944 poem ‘The Walls Do Not Fall’. The poem tackles the question of how much of yourself you should give up in order achieve true creative freedom. The final stanza reads:

Be indigestible, hard, ungiving

so that, living within,

you beget, self-out-of-self,


that pearl-of-great-price.

And Verpsrille finds a response by framing the personal sacrifice in terms of both artistic merit and personal heartache: “your caught up in the rush of lust / do you really want that much trust / does it make you want to run / the pearl of greatest price”. It’s an existential thought experiment translated through the prism of cerebral pop.

Pray For Rain sees Pure Bathing Culture taking a step towards an elevated form of the type of leftfield pop the band produced during their first outing, and in doing so, they’ve created an album wrought with subtle nuances and big ideas.

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