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Roxi’s Dream Pt. 1 by Pure Bathing Culture (Review)

The dream pop duo’s latest is the first in a series of semi-autobiographical EPs about star-crossed lovers making their way in a cruel, capitalist society.
Roxi's Dream Pt. 1 - Pure Bathing Culture

Although four years have passed since Pure Bathing Culture’s last album — 2019’s Night Pass on Infinite Companion — Sarah Versprille and Daniel Hindman have kept themselves busy with a string of EPs and covers (e.g., The Pretenders, R.E.M., and Fleetwood Mac). But their newest title, Roxi’s Dream Pt. 1, is the first in a series of isekai-inspired EPs chronicling “an otherworldly tale of two star crossed lovers who’ve lost one another due to circumstances beyond their control.”

As we’ve come to expect from Pure Bathing Culture, the EP’s four songs are pristine dream pop gems filled with equal amounts wonder and wistfulness. Case in point: Album opener “In Gardens Under Evergreen” finds Versprille marrying vivid imagery (“Every time you walk away I walk a little closer/Your summer eyes a little strange in coral bell and clover”) to Hindman’s immaculate arrangements full of chiming guitars, lush synths, and glittering harps.

For all of its fantastical themes and imagery, though — “City of Mirrors” is about one of the character’s encountering “a ghostly race of fallen angel kings” — Roxi’s Dream Pt. 1 possesses a semi-autobiographical element. Or as Versprille and Hindman writes:

As time passes and we write more together, what was once a mystery is starting to feel like some vital process we’re inexplicably drawn to… sometimes it almost feels like we’re translating someone else’s dreams from some other world. But then these love psalms and ghost stories become a lens for us to view a mirror and see that we’re writing about ourselves at the same time.

When the duo says that the somber “Neroli Blue” is about the lovers’ struggle to “[live] as artists in an unethical, capitalist society,” it’s easy to see that as a parallel for Pure Bathing Culture’s own struggles (like being dropped by their label back in 2019). Thus, “We make our world my love/And our world makes us,” sings Versprille before noting that “It’s a reflection of what can’t be touched.” Which is a poignant sentiment that’s perfect coming from a duo that’s spent the last decade creating dreamy, otherworldly music par excellence.

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