Austin, Texas group Pure X play languid, dreamy noise pop that floats on a raft of thick, distorted guitar sounds, carried along by a current of simple but determined rhythms. Over the course of several albums and over a decade of work, their sounds grew more defined. Atmospheric earlier material sharpened into a hazy but more down to earth songwriting style on the group's self-titled fourth album, released in 2020.
Pure X first met when they were attending college in San Marcos, Texas, not far from Austin. Bassist Jesse Jenkins and drummer Austin Youngblood were members of the band Silver Pines, while guitarist and vocalist Nate Grace played in a short-lived band with Jenkins and released a handful of solo projects on cassette. After spending some time traveling, Grace settled in Austin in 2009, and invited Jenkins and Youngblood to jam with him. These first informal get-togethers evolved into a band called Pure Ecstasy, but when the Texans learned there was a show band in California using the same name, they changed their handle to Pure X. (As Grace told journalist Amber Bravo, "I like Pure X. Pure 'blank' is how I like to think of it.") Aligning themselves with the like-minded bands on Austin's Light Lodge Records label, Pure X began releasing a steady stream of 7" and cassette releases; their favored recording technique was to cut everything live to tape, with no overdubs and minimal editing. After receiving encouraging reviews for their initial releases and live shows, Pure X came to the attention of Acephale Records, who released the band's first full-length album, Pleasure, in the summer of 2011. The band returned in 2013 with Crawling Up the Stairs, a less murky but more emotionally dark album inspired in part by a serious leg injury Grace suffered before its recording. Touring guitarist Matty Tommy Davidson joined the band permanently following the release of the record, and the newly expanded quartet switched gears from the dark clouds of Crawling Up the Stairs for dreamier, more lighthearted sonics on third album Angel, which saw release in the spring of 2014. Following the release of Angel, some bandmembers left Austin and others started focusing on other elements of their lives, resulting in a period of relative dormancy. In 2020, Pure X returned from their downtime with more spare arrangements and clearer production on a self-titled fourth album.