Pure Bathing Culture pays tribute to cult television
As more than a couple of reviewers have pointed out, Pure Bathing Culture’s debut EP, Ivory Coast, is one of those records that sound like they were meant to be played in a specific season. Think Nick Cave’s Murder Ballads, and how it’s essential listening once the first snowfall arrives. Or how nothing goes better with a sweltering summer night than the Gun Club’s Fire of Love.
Pure Bathing Culture frontwoman Sarah Versprille doesn’t necessarily disagree with this line of thinking. She will argue, however, that most reviewers get the season wrong.
“They’ve called it beach music, and called it a great summertime record,” Versprille says, on her cellphone as the band’s tour van heads to California. “We like that people feel that way about it, but it’s definitely not something that we set out to do—to make something that you play on the beach.”
Pure Bathing Culture delivers a whole range of emotions on Ivory Coast, which makes the record difficult to pin down. Rubbery, grey-tone synths lend an overcast-December-skies undercurrent to “Silver Shore’s Lake”, while chiming guitar brings to mind the first days of spring on “Lucky One”. There’s also a distinct chillwave beach vibe to the record, perhaps most noticeably on the title track, which is one of the year’s top singles.
As great as “Ivory Coast” is, the video is even better, with Versprille and her Pure Bathing Culture collaborator Daniel Hindman teaming up with cinematographer Sean Pecknold to deliver something exquisite. The clip’s story goes something like this: a woman and a man (who may or may not be from another planet) team up and give birth to a baby blue alien. What follows is one of the most gorgeous and atmospheric advertisements for the Pacific Northwest since Twin Peaks. That both the video and parts of Ivory Coast suggest a more than passing affection for David Lynch’s cult television series isn’t an accident.
“That show is a really great aesthetic influence,” Versprille reveals. “The video, ‘Ivory Coast’, was really inspired by Twin Peaks and the feel that it has.”
Equally inspiring for Pure Bathing Culture has been the West Coast, the former New Yorkers’ home for just over a year. The two aren’t new to playing music, as both are members of the band Vetiver. Portlandia motivated them to become more than side players.
“We moved into a house where we were able to have a big rehearsal space, which was a luxury in New York because of how small the spaces are there,” Versprille says. “In Portland, we had the space and time to start working together on songs. Things really came together.”
The greatest measure of their affection? The members of Pure Bathing Culture profess to enjoy the Northwest’s rain-soaked autumns. Just don’t expect their next record to capture the feel of November in these parts. That’s because Versprille doesn’t see October-to-December as being more depressing than Cormac McCarthy’s The Road set to the music of Joy Division.
“We both grew up on the East Coast and lived there for a long time,” she says. “The weather in New York is extreme—winters are awful, super-cold, below 20 degrees with ice and snow, and the summers are super-humid. The weather for us, here, feels pretty temperate. It’s nice.”
Pure Bathing Culture plays the Cobalt on Friday (November 2) .