Premiere: Pure Bathing Culture Debuts Cover of “The Downtown Lights” | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
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Premiere: Pure Bathing Culture Debuts Cover of “The Downtown Lights”

The Band’s Cover Album of The Blue Nile's Hats is Out 12/18 On Better Company

Dec 01, 2020
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Portland indie pop duo Pure Bathing Culture is releasing their cover of The Blue Nile’s “The Downtown Lights,” premiering with Under the Radar. The song is the first released from the band’s cover album of The Blue Nile’s 1989 classic Hats and marks the second release from Better Company, the Brooklyn-based record company owned by Ellis Ludwig-Leone and Allen Tate of San Fermin. The band first covered the record in 2018 for a limited vinyl release, but they have since recorded new versions for wide release. Ben Gibbard of Death Cab For Cutie features on this first track, and San Fermin also collaborated on the project as a whole, all contributing a mutual love and admiration for The Blue Nile and the longing nocturnal soliloquies of Paul Buchanan.  

Pure Bathing Culture have long been clear devotees of The Blue Nile’s intimate brand of synth pop. Where the band succeeds so well with their version of “The Downtown Lights” is in capturing the neon-soaked romanticism and conflicted soul of the original. While the band is relatively faithful to the lush, sweeping instrumentation of The Blue Nile, they do bring the song’s underlying electronic touches to the forefront, and vocalist Sarah Versprille delivers a powerful reinterpretation of Paul Buchanan’s aching vocals. Ben Gibbard’s background vocals are subtle but mesh perfectly with Versprille’s soaring performance. The combination is a modern sheen on the classic track, shifting the instrumentation by a few degrees, but perfectly recreating the moon-lit nostalgia that made the original so powerful.

The band says of the track, “This song is such a perfect description of what it feels like to be in love and the vulnerability that opens in our hearts when we let it wash over us. The Blue Nile’s music has been so important and influential for us because they so wonderfully capture the nostalgia, beauty, risks, and sadness of relationships. It was truly a joy to bring this song into our world. To have Ben contribute vocals and then later have an arrangement added by Ellis of San Fermin are all elements we never would have imagined were even possible when we began this project."

They go on to say of the decision to cover the record, “When we decided to cover Hats we had no idea what it would become, we just loved the music so much and were so inspired by The Blue Nile that it felt like a journey we were destined to take. It was a dream come true to have the chance to pay homage to a work that we admired so much, we knew we could never replicate the original so we set out to make something that felt really personal and authentic to us. There is so much nostalgia and longing in the music, the songs are somehow simultaneously extremely sad but also intensely romantic and modern. It was a dream to dig into the songs and bring them into our world. This is the first album we recorded and mixed entirely on our own in our home studio here in Portland, OR which made finding ourselves in this music even more rewarding and special.” Check out the song below and look for Pure Bathing Culture’s version of Hats, out 12/18 on Better Company.



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