Album Review: Purity Ring
After a year of steadily amounting shedloads of hype from singles “Ungirthed”, “Belispeak”, “Obedear”, and most recently, “Fineshrine”, Purity Ring’s debut album, Shrines, is finally on its way. As suggested by the holy qualities their name implies, Purity Ring are an unearthly ecstasy made up of celestial chords, half-time beats, and waves of deep sub-bass, smothered in the angelic vocals of Megan James. The Canadian duo have created their very own plateau of futuristic pop in the post-dubstep otherworld, and their debut demonstrates their quality in pristine fashion.
“Crawlersout” begins as predictably enticing ‘intro’ music with a sweeping atmosphere of spiritual chords before their familiar hip-hop rhythms supply a grounding for James’s pop hooks. With one of the best choruses of the album, the lyrics are curiously bizarre but incredibly catchy: “they’ll cover the hills with their sweet flesh and soft nails, they’ll cover the doors with the screams that their minds disposed”. These nonsensical ramblings and otherworldly sound palette are a mainstay across the album, with songs gracefully weaving in and out of each other in a dreamlike fashion.
“Fineshrine” and “Ungirthed” remain infectiously sweet and touching, whilst “Saltkin” illuminates with a perfect pop structure, featuring seductive verses, bass-encompassing choruses and an uplifting synth riff that takes the song a step higher. The centre-duo of “Grandloves” and “Cartographist” provide some welcome relief from the overtly pop melodies with the inclusion of male vocals in the former and the latter acting as a sparse, snail-tempo interlude. There are moments throughout the album where over-congestion of instruments and excessively echoed vocals fog up tracks, but this is countered at other points such as with the beautifully open space in “Odebear” demonstrating excellent production.
“Lofticries”, first released over a year ago, is still the stand-out track in terms of its immediate arpeggio ascension into euphoria, but the album’s flow and feel as a whole is superb, and multiple listens merely unravel the subtle hooks that are hidden in every song. It’s the sound of 2012.
“Shrines” will be released on July 24th on 4AD, but you can listen to it in its entirety below.