Listening to Pure Bathing Culture's debut album Moon Tides is like sinking deep into a dream that's soundtracked by a lo-fi version of the Cocteau Twins. The duo of Sarah Versprille and Daniel Hindman are firmly in debt to the brilliance of the Twins, building a sound that's all chorused guitars, clunky drum machines, and wintry female vocals, but also adding plenty of modern chillwave textures, a little frozen R&B, some nocturnal synth pop, and most importantly, writing some beautiful songs to go with the imaginatively weird sounds. Working with producer Richard Swift, the duo get a firm grip on the heartstrings right away and don't let go until the last shimmering notes of the record fade away. Each song gets deep into melancholy beauty as Versprille's voice soars and flutters gracefully over Hindman's glimmery guitars and the swelling synths. Swift fits all the pieces together perfectly and makes sure there's no stray junk cluttering up the simple but richly crafted arrangements. The songs flow from one to the next like raindrops gathering to form a stream; everything is of a piece and yet every song has its own identity thanks to the very strong melodies and the power of Versprille's voice. The bewitching "Pendulum" (which has a little Stevie Nicks mixed in) and the almost jaunty "Only Lonely Lovers" stand out from the pack as potential singles, but really any track here could be extracted from the whole and would make an impact. Taken as a whole though, Moon Tides is a fairly stunning record that makes you wonder why more bands haven't used the Cocteau Twins as an inspiration, since there's plenty of good stuff there to steal. Pure Bathing Culture borrows only the best elements from the Twins, then adds more than enough of their own style and vision to make Moon Tides a dreamy triumph that is both a great debut album and a tantalizing promise for the future.
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AllMusic Review by Tim Sendra