It’s really not hard to understand why a disproportionate percentage of the hipster backlash sometimes falls on the dream pop genre. Genres like punk and hardcore are a sonic assault on the senses; they don’t ask for permission, they just wash straight over and through you (so that even a bad punk show can still leave you drenched in sweat). But dreamy pop music is different. It doesn’t force, instead, its power lies in its ability to guide the listener. Unfortunately, when it’s done poorly, songs that are meant to guide succeed in dragging—ultimately making ethereal vibes sound cold and their musicians seem despondent. The current popularity of such acts means that there is more junk out there than ever before, and it’s hard not to just write it all off.
Enter Portland’s Pure Bathing Culture, composed of Sarah Versprille and Daniel Hindman (they are joined live by bassist Zach Tillman). Since coming across their s/t EP last year on Father Daughter Records I’ve come to believe that this band is what Beach House should sound like. In fact, they do share a number of similarities, including slow, rich female vocals and reverb-laden guitar rifts, but PBC songs are somehow warmer (potentially due to the time that Sarah and Daniel have spent in various folk bands, such as Vetiver). In addition, I’ve seen them twice and I’m always on the lookout for them to return to Seattle because they’re even better live than on the record. Sarah’s presence is intense but engaging and is well complemented by Daniel’s carefree nature and seemingly effortless guitar style. I really can’t wait until they put out a full length. Until then, here is a live version of an as yet unreleased track called “Pendulum Song”.