October 17th, 2013 | Live reviews

The Puro girls are back! Piper and Skylar Kaplan of Puro Instinct made a return to the stage at the Silverlake Lounge—this time without a full band; only the two sisters and a finger drumming/knob twiddler guy behind a Native Instruments “Maschine” sampler connected to a MacBook Pro. If you were used to their dreamy  Headbangers In Ecstasy material—or even way back when they were called Pearl Harbor and had released Something About the Chaparrals—to say you would be surprised by these new songs and their performance would be a ridiculous understatement. While they’ve been away, it seems they have been hard at work crafting infectious new tunes that resemble the pop sensibility and 80’s dance aesthetic of Stacey Q or Berlin with almost Italo-like undertones, yet somehow still managing to sound like the same Puro Instinct we’ve known in years past. 808 kicks and house claps laid out in a four-on-the-floor fashion at a good 120bpm had me wanting to dance—if only I weren’t trying to hold still enough to capture the entire performance on video.

Their set was based solely on brand new material that we hadn’t heard before. It was fresh sounding and exciting—almost like the feeling you get when you discover a new act that sounds familiar to something you’ve known and loved, so you identify with it right away—except Puro Instinct isn’t a new act, and that is what made the performance seem so special. It’s rare to see a band revamp their style in such a profound manner and have it still ‘work’ for them while injecting retro elements and still sounding ‘novel’, but that’s exactly what Puro Instinct accomplished. Piper’s voice is very distinctive, as is Skylar’s guitar style, so that had a lot to do with tying together these new numbers with the sonic continuity of their previous albums. During select songs, Skylar would set down her guitar and join Piper on vocals, which resulted in lush modern pop-styled melodies and harmonies that would sound equally at home if a DJ were spinning them on the dance floor of a crowded club.

Their entire set length was only nineteen minutes and some change, and admittedly I was a little disappointed they didn’t play longer. But this show was definitely comparable to a ‘teaser trailer’ for the next big indie film, so to speak; a little treat to whet our appetites until they drop something huge on us. While not outright saying it, it was pretty obvious that they had something big in the works and were excited to be there sharing some of the freshly harvested fruits of their labor. Whatever the case, I think it’s safe to say we’ll be hearing/seeing a lot more of the Kaplan sisters and their new jams very soon. One thing’s for certain, however: the suspense is killing me!

Daniel Carpenter