Pure X

Crawling Up The Stairs is the second LP from Austin, Texas' Pure X. Made up
of principal members Nate Grace, Jesse Jenkins and Austin Youngblood, they
stay true to the dense sound they explored on their last album, Pleasure, but
add twinkling atmospherics and a new clarity to their carefully cultivated,
emotionally heavy songs.
Where Pleasure was built on syrup-slow hooks and a weighty, sexy haze,
Crawling Up The Stairs is the sound of Pure X emerging from that humid
cocoon to stare all the screwed up parts of life directly in the face and embrace
them. When Grace's voice, cracked and worn, breaks through a fog of
downtempo drums and misty guitar on "Someone Else," the pain that used to be
visible in his face when he was on stage is pushed to the forefront of their sound,
his voice growling and moaning with barely contained anger and apocalyptic
worry in anguished falsetto. Crawling isn't a record about escape, it's about
what you do after you've realized that escaping isn't an option and you just have
to face the world you live in head on.
Crawling Up The Stairs is an album born from emotional turmoil. For much of
2012, Grace was laid up with a serious leg injury. During the recording period, he
had no insurance, no money, and if he ever was going to walk again, he needed
to have surgery. Grace had no idea if he'd get the money together, and was
consumed with doubt, unable to sleep. After a cathartic but torturous night of
insomnia, heavy with world-worry and intermittent nightmares, Grace emerged
feeling exhausted and different. Not better or worse, but different. Ready to
heal. Crawling is the result of that. Track by track, Grace, Youngblood and
Jenkins—who shares vocal and songwriting duties—drag themselves through a
bad year.
As Grace was wrestling with his own demons, Jenkins' was figuring things out as
well. On the gorgeous "Thousand Year Old Child," his falsetto hangs over
unusually upbeat drum work from Youngblood and perfectly placed synth wines.
It's a tricky song—relaxed and happy on the surface, but lyrically, Jenkins is
wrestling with getting older and being uncertain about his future, singing, "there
is no reason/ to think about time/ sometimes I feel/ I feel like a thousand year old
child." A little later, the kicker comes: "up in the morning/ sleep at night/ there is a
question/ what am I doing with my life?" It's a universal feeling rendered personal
by Jenkins' heartbreakingly spare lyrics.
But Crawling isn't entirely dark. Album closer "All of the Future (All of the Past)"
is the record's most optimistic song. As if Grace, Jenkins and Youngblood have
finally emerged from an endless parade of bummer moments with newly
optimistic perspectives on life. Grace's guitar glistens and glides across Jenkins'
thick bass work and Youngblood's expertly controlled drums, but it's Grace'slyrics that end up laying everything out, making clear that there's a redemptive
narrative in this record worth coming back to: "I can see the light/just got to stay
alive," Grace sings. It might read as desperate, but Grace, for the first time,
sounds confident that they'll make it no matter what.


Icy synth swaths over 808 drum machine chatter and dark ethereal girl vocals ala Dead Can Dance (or maybe Faith/Seventeen Seconds-era Cure). Behold the wild rush to dreams. This is synthgaze.


Veronica Ortuño of Finally Punk, Medio Mutante, White Dog, The Carrots, etc. it's a solo electronic project.



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