[ALBUM: Review] Purity Ring – Shrines
4AD / Remote Control
Canadian duo Purity Ring sprung from relative obscurity about a year and a half ago, turning critics’ heads with a string of well-produced singles and enigmatic videos released online. After much anticipation – and an inclusion on lineups with indie legends like Dirty Projectors and Japandroids – they’ve delivered Shrines, an amalgam of dream pop, electronica and hip hop that, despite its internet beginnings, has seemed to restore some faith in the continuation of ‘the album’ as a form.
Their 38-minute debut combines the synth, sampling and drum-machine work of Born Gold’s Corin Roddick with the otherworldly voice of Megan James, whose lyricism and atmospheric sensibility have already set her amongst the likes of The Knife’s Karin Dreijer Andersson and Portishead’s Beth Gibbons. What on first listen could seem like saccharine electro-pop is quickly belied by the consuming waves of Roddick’s synth, and surprisingly grotesque descriptions nonchalantly delivered by James. ‘Fireshrine’ has a hook as spooky as it is catchy (“Get a little closer, let fold / Cut open my sternum and pull / my little ribs around you”), and songs like ‘Cartographist’ and ‘Belispeak’ set melancholic melodies against hip hop drum patterns, making them totally danceable. Though mellow, ‘Obedear’ and ‘Crawlersout’ are both arresting in their use of claps and samples, prompting you to groove along solemnly and girlishly.
The album has a consistent sound but avoids being too samey as it’s kept short. It’s broken up midway through with ‘Grandloves’, featuring New York band Young Magic, whose lush, multi-layered vocals offer an interesting counterpoint to the rest of the album. Though it may not offer many surprises, Shrines is definitely captivating. You want to be a part of Megan James’ fantasy world of made-up words and tactile, childlike experiences.
If Grimes’ Visions is what you want on the dancefloor, Purity Ring’s Shrines is what you’ll want to hear when you get home.