There’s a filter in Photoshop called Gaussian Blur, and it’s basically a one-stop-shop for enshrouding a photo in a dream-like mist. Although it’s mostly used on pictures of galloping horses and glamor poses, the filter looks like it could have been what made the cover of Headbangers in Ecstasy so dreamy. And given the smooth, dream pop sound Puro Instinct makes, they could have easily called it GaussianBlur in This Album (photographer ZING!).
Puro Instinct started out as two sisters, Piper and Skylar Kaplan, who originally went by the name Pearl Harbor. The duo made waves with their infections single “Luv Goon” but soon added four more members to the band and changed their name to Puro Instinct. Now the band has a full-length record under their belt and (what a shocker) it too is somewhat of a departure from the original sound of the Kaplan sister duo.
Whereas the Pearl Harbor material fell into the lo-fi garage pop sound (think Vivian Girls), the Puro Instinct record is more polished, more pop and much more evolved. It almost sounds like what the Kaplans were shooting for this whole time. The first single from Headbangers, “Stilyagi,” is low-key and atmospheric with a mild verse but just the sweetest hook. “Silky Eyes,” on the other hand, is a constantly upbeat, head-nodding pop gem that’s hard to ignore. And of course the band brought back “Luv Goon,” which is still their best track to date.
The record is deceiving. On the surface, the pop hooks and sweet vocals (and yes the Gaussian Blur) give the impression that this is some kind of innocent dream pop album. But beneath the white dresses and make up beat the hearts of two good song writers who know just what they’re doing. On “Escape Forever,” one of Headbangers‘ more forgettable tracks, Puro Instinct show an incredible ability to set a mood (in this case it’s sort of an ’80s-parody-of-a-’50s-film-noir kind of thing).
As a photojournalist I’m not allowed to use Gaussian Blur on any of my images (it’s an ethics thing), so thank god my desire for pseudo-cheeseball dream imagery is wrapped up nicely in a package called Headbangers in Ecstasy. Thank god for us all, really.
Headbangers in Ecstasy is out now. Buy it at Mexican Summer.