Album Review: Purity Ring – Shrines

Posted: July 24, 2012 in Music Review, New Music
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Artist: Purity Ring

Album: Shrines

Release Date: July 24, 2012

Label: 4AD

If you managed to follow the evolving sound of Chillwave and its predecessors, it has become the internet darling of the music blogosphere. The genre in itself can be tricky as it gathers sounds ethereal melodies of R&B, the twisted charm and slight abrasiveness of Dubstep, and the hypnotic beauty of Trip Hop. From Tori Y Moi to Grimes, there’s a fixture that expands beyond the experimentation, creating music that can be weird yet highly accessible. With the Canadian duo Purity Ring, they tack themselves onto the ever-growing list of downtempo acts that come onto the scene and make mind-blowing tunes with Shrines.

From the opening “Crawlersout”, vocalist Megan James delivers in quite possibly the strongest track singing-wise. Instrumentalist Corin Roddick provides a cheery synth drop that quietly morphs into a screwed, slowed-down background as James sucks you in with a tremendous, spacey hook. It becomes much of the theme for this album: alluring, murky, beats that could rival that of Clams Casino, and the enigmatic, fragile innocence displayed in the singing. It’s almost overbearing in a good way, as the two shine throughout.

Within the dark undercurrent, Purity Ring makes no mistake in meshing the witch house influence perfectly.  The stunning duet “Grandloves” can be as easily addictive within the first 30 seconds of listening, as the dark, upbeat “Belispeak” has James exposing the delicate nature of her songwriting. It can come off easily as cheesy teen angst, but it works here as it feels organic. (Grandma, I’ve been unruly in my dreams and with my speech/ Drill little holes into my eyelids, that I might see you/that I might see you when I sleep. The album caps off with the short, minimalistic “Shuck”, an eerie love song that sounds anything but charming, but the glowing build from Roddick’s trippy drums and keys will keep the listener in a trance.

Shrines is an excellent debut in locating and showcasing Purity Ring’s strengths in the adapting chillwave age. It’s engrossing with each spin, finding layers that may not have been heard the first or second time around. The songwriting can take time to expand the more the duo work together, but for now it is worth enjoying something as exciting and tons of fun with each click of the play button.

Rating: 8.5/10

Highlights:

  • “Crawlersout”
  • “Fileshrine”
  • “Grandloves”
  • “Belispeak”
  • “Obedear”
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