Pure Bathing Culture are an Indie twosome from Portland, Oregon (where else?) combining their unique take on guitar pop with poetic and considered lyrics that all too often missing from groups like PBC. The duo (who are now also a couple), Sarah Versprille and Daniel Hindman, met back in 1999 at college and became fast friends, telling us, “we weren’t a couple then but people on campus often assumed we were or that we were brother and sister. We played in bands together before we started this project but it took 10 years of knowing each other and also falling in love for us to start making this music together.”
It’s an indisputably heart-warming story, and the couple-cum-band’s first output, Moon Tides, was a well-received slice of gauzy synth-pop that produced some truly memorable tracks in ‘Dream the Dare’ and ‘Pendulum’. For their follow up record, Pray For Rain, though, Hindman and Versprille wanted to move their sound in a new direction: “We didn’t gravitate towards someone making indie dream-pop records,” they explain. Enter John Congleton (St. Vincent, Swans), who produced Pray For Rain and encouraged the duo to break old habits and push out of their comfort zone, an experience that was difficult but ultimately rewarding. “It was intense working with John. He was pretty demanding in terms of what he wanted us to track where as on Moon Tides we tracked a lot more instruments and layered things quite a bit. It was hard at times but he helped us to understand more about what the fundamentals are for us.”
The result is an album that is nearly entirely analogue with very few effects added or extra layers plugged in – which means PBC live sound almost identical to the way they do on the recording. As for the lyrical aspect of their music, you only need to look to tracks like ‘Palest Pearl’ (the latest single from Pray For Rain) to see the poetic quality to PBC’s writing as well as the diversity of their literary influences, including Elizabeth Bishop, EE Cummings, Louise Gluck and Dylan Thomas. ‘Palest Pearl’ itself is based on a poem by Hilda Doolittle, the Modernist poet who became a feminist icon upon the rediscovery of her work in the ’70s.