For the love of god, will somebody please time travel to the high school dance ten years ago and drag Pure X back to the future? The band’s self-titled effort sounds as if they’re couch-locked in a heroin den in 2010 and can’t get out, so all they can do is inject clichés into the veins of Austin three noisy minutes at a time. Perhaps it’s funny—ironic, even when vocalist Nate Grace says “life is worth living” on the dated “Hollywood” because Pure X plods along like a funeral procession; what others may call “languid” or “unhurried” is in fact dead on arrival. The highlight of the similarly ironic “Making History” is that somebody in the band once thought a rainbow was real, which…come on, how much evidence do you need that the songwriting here is lacking? But hey, don’t take my word for it—-check out Pure X’s final track “I Can Dream,” in which Mr. Grace laments, “I can dream of those nights when we touched long ago/until you changed into someone I don’t know.” That’s not all: “Who stopped lovin’ who,” really? Then again, “nothin’ ever really stays the same,” am I right? On second thought, just give Pure X the damn Pulitzer already.
As if the lyrics weren’t enough, the actual music of Pure X is at times hilariously lazy. There’s experimenting with new sounds, and then there’s “How Good Does It Get,” which sounds like the band just recently discovered what a maraca is. There’s wearing your influences on your sleeve, and then there’s “Angels of Love,” which probably made Tom Petty die again from laughing and Neil Young solemnly shake his head. Apparently, Pure X has listened to all the songs in Mr. Young’s catalog except for “Needle and the Damage Done.” Heroin aside, Pure X–which originally wanted to be called Pure Ecstasy but changed their name because another band had beaten them to the punch—-has turned the six years since their last album into a long buildup to nothing…or, in other words, their new song “Man with No Head.” Nearly every lyric on Pure X reminds you of why you never want to go back to high school: There will always be those fake-deep dudes who think finger picking on the guitar is a novel idea and get you high on bullshit, leave you for their drug dealers, and forgive themselves after years of narcissismenabling therapy that taught them nothing except how to turn a Mexican vacation into a song about how great sunsets are.
Even with more intrigue, Pure X would have still been a mediocre, albeit melodic collection of cotton candy. Saying and doing nothing—or worse, what everyone else has already said and done—is a sad excuse to make music. Indeed, Pure X has “Stayed Too Long” and should have listened to their own advice: “Always know when it’s time to go.”