Album Review: Purity Ring ‘Shrines’
Yin and Yang. Which is the dark half? I find the emotions that most of us suppress to be the most interesting. Everyone can put on a shitty smile and act happy all the time, but that’s not real. Worst of it all, social media is a non-stop barrage of inspirational quotes, “life is great”, and fake positivity. You want to convince me your life is fantastic? Don’t tell me about it. Otherwise you’re just one of the rest of us, filling a giant hole with anything you can. The truth is, I am not a happy person all the time. I’m not depressed and shitty all the time either. I’m a mix, as it probably ought to be. Life needs to be a good balance, not some one-way Prozac induced trip. Well maybe it is for some people, but we all need to deal with our other half at some point.
Shrines, the debut album from Montreal’s Purity Ring, is a dive into the other side of human nature told via electronic synths from Corin Roddick and pristine vocals from Megan James. The duo’s uniqueness lies in their style, or better yet, their atmosphere. Whereas Tanlines brought about the early favorite electronic album of 2012 with their upbeat synths and positive vibes, Purity Ring combine morose, morbid lyrics and thunderous synth beats together to weave a world of a fairy tale gone wrong. And I mean that in the most congratulatory way possible because Megan and Corin have crafted one of my favorite electronic albums of all time. This isn’t just a band introducing themselves to the world. This is running straight through that door.
Shrines begins with “Crawlersout”, a fitting introduction to the experience of Shrines in that it’s about darkness, or nightmarish evil, taking over. When your first song on your debut album ends “they’ll sew their own hands into their beds to keep them crawlersout”, I’m officially interested. And after that introduction, “Fineshrine” takes it to a new level. In fact, I’m willing to go out and call this the jam of the summer. A hot beat full of emotion and feeling, it necessitates volume.
“Ungirthed” follows and begins with a drippy beat and more dark poetry. Images of “teeth clicking” and “drying bones” fill an otherwise somewhat happy mood. But perhaps the most interesting track on the record is the longest one, entitled “Grandloves”. An R&B jam with a slow moving, heavy synth that stretches out the beat, it’s a duet that brings a certain dark sexiness to the album. It’s a large song that can be so big that it feels almost overwhelming, until it retreats for a split second with Megan pulling the listener back in with her vocals before spreading out again. It’s like watching the universe be created in under five minutes.
The second half of the album features previously released favorites “Obedear”, “Lofticries” and “Belispeak” which I’ve previously covered as they were released. In total, I will freely admit that this album likely won’t be loved by everyone. Focusing on the ugliness of the human spirit amid electronic beats isn’t in the general public’s wheelhouse. But for those willing, you’ll get back more than you bargained for.
Written by Greg Dahman