If ever an album came to be marked by a season, that album was/is Pure X’s Angel (2014); the season? SUMMER. Slow and steady as July sunshine, Angel melts away course and frigid elements of indie rock with its sultry, slippery, sun-filled dive into soft, melodic tunes akin to seventies soft-rock, yet bolstered by the sparkling production indicative of technological modernity. It’s a bit of a clash of times; but mostly, Angel is heavy on mood, on feeling.
There’s an occasional edge lurking in the background of the sound (“Livin’ the Dream”; “Make You Want Me”; “Rain”), though it’s either super-soft or bombs out quickly, waved over by sweet sounding vocal melodies with enough reverb to count one plucked note as two.
Released by Fat Possum Records, Angel is Pure X’s third full-length release. A beauty with soothing vibes, Angel is a transport to reverie; a feast of aurally inspired visions of harmony in a lush environment of tranquil sound. Soft as Aphrodite and stellar as the moonlight illuminating her bed—whatever visions you have while listening to this, when they fade and break, this intoxicating record remains a physical vehicle to places of sheer loveliness. How’s that for comfort and stability?
Cool down that thinking brain struggling for meaningful expression and chill out in the shady coulee of “Valley of Tears,” where feeling provides all the truth required for the trip. “The whole world is an illusion,” sings Someone; and, “When my heart is alive, girl, it is so alive / And there is nothing, there is nothing, that can keep me down.” The words fly in over a soft beat and an in-and-out, lean-in melodic guitar, quietly slipping under a chord crunch until the bright notes branch out like ivy, wrapping these confessional lines: “There is one thing I can do / Open my heart to you”; and little melodic blooms open up gently, as they do all throughout Angel’s sound.
“Fly Away With Me Woman,” another love-cut escape dream, with its spread eagle guitar chords and multitude of piquant background sound, takes to great heights the “truth-in-feeling” good-time vibe that marks much of the lyrical material on Angel, escalating listeners to the plateau that is “Heaven,” described as “a feeling / One I can believe in.” What beauty in guitar just over the minute mark, as “Heaven” rolls onward, time draining it out of the sky of your ears. [Generation-X, your parents are dancing].
Angel’s highest point of melodic beauty comes with the slow climb to the peak that is “Every Tomorrow.” What hands of impassioned delicacy! The instrumental togetherness on this track is so utterly POWERFUL with its simplistic percussion, soft-cut strings and desirous guitar lines as the singer’s conscientious words, “hangs on a string,” (in reference to days and lifetimes) finds welcome repetition deep within the ears, cored in the feeling brain. A quite Beatle-esque sentiment follows: “Every tomorrow ain’t worth a thing / If you don’t have love to keep you going”; and the power of melody, sparked to life, carries this one off.
Grounding the album somewhat is a lack of variety as Angel rolls on into its second half. Not hard to tell that Pure X is quite comfortable with their sound. Guitar tones, vocal melodies and pace seem to suffer from a lack of freshness in tracks like “Angel” and “Make You Want Me,” when compared with previously heard compositions on the record.
That’s no major flaw, though, as the monotony likens itself to a summer rainstorm. While it’s pretty, it’s also pretty monotonous, yet it’s a lull that’s truly, simply, hard to resist. And, sitting by a window, passing the time, this soft, soothing repetition comes welcome. It’s a sign of contentment, wanting for nothing; it’s also the sound of Angel, which sounds pretty damn good on this quiet July evening.