The debut full-length from Austin, Texas dreampop trio Pure X (formerly Pure Ecstacy, but shortened due to another band already snagging and copyrighting the name) seems to begin without notice and glide along in a dumbfounded but beautiful stumble for the albums' duration. More sophisticated fare than that of your garden variety blissed-out shoegazers, the songs on Pleasure come together in a sculpted vibe, tastefully configuring layers of guitar noise, crawling rhythms and buried pop melodies to evoke a range of grainy, drifting feelings that sometimes comfort and other times feel foreboding.
The muted Polaroid snapshot quality of Pleasure comes most noticeably from the understated but ever-looming waves of effected guitars. Rather than the pedal-damage of some of the weaker Johnny-drone-latelys to the shoegaze game, guitarist Nate Grace plays with textures and specific sound-tweaks rather than piling on the effects. The glowing guitar tones never take the lead, but instead dissolve nicely into skilled playing from the rest of the band and lazy, ambling songwriting. The band chose to record these performances live to tape with a minimal number of takes, and even though generous helpings of reverb are doled out to everything from vocals to drum kit, they steer clear of overdubs completely. This technique just furthers the dream-like atmosphere of Pleasure, compressing all the elements until no background or foreground exists, just a colorful stream of sound. The dusty vibes of slow-burner "Surface" hang ominously like a dessert horizon line at dusk, and "Twisted Mirror" slinks along at the albums median molasses-pace, hollowed-out guitars and distant falsetto vocals ornamenting Pure X's narcotic take on a pop tune.
Along with contemporaries like Texas-born Jana Hunter's band Lower Dens, Black Angels and a handful of other Austin-based psyche purveyors, Pure X have tapped into something possibly unique to their environment in their particular brand of intricate and guitar-heavy epics. At moments, echoes of previous generations of Austin's acid-washed history come through, be it the slowed-to-a-crawl pop plaintiveness of 90's slowcore act Bedhead or the guitar tone explorations of luminaries like Cold Sun. Heavy on atmosphere and hooks alike, Pleasure comes one bounding step closer in the eternal quest to marry refined song craft and ungovernable noise.