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
I have a thing, or maybe the precise word is lust, for electronic music. The beats, the synthesizers, the turntables…my ears hear a sound I like, I feel the music, and I’m hooked. While a purist might knock on the fact that the artist is “painting their picture” using a machine with buttons as opposed to a guitar or drum set, I don’t see any difference. Music is about expending creative energy to bring a unique sound for the listener to experience. And that’s perhaps why I love this genre so much…the live experience. You won’t find a soul standing with their hands in their pockets. It’s a dance party with the hundreds of your newest, closest friends. And at one point during the show, that shared experience culminates with that one special song, where for a few minutes the world slows and you feel a part of something bigger than just yourself.
Purity Ring is the electro pop music project of Megan James and Corin Roddick. While the duo have yet to release a full length LP, they have had a steady stream of ridiculously great singles throughout 2011 that include “Belispeak,” “Lofticries,” and “Ungirthed” that give a glimpse of what is to come. The music itself seems like the love child of hit 2011 indie band Tennis with a synthesizer. Megan’s vocals pierce over Corin hooks, producing the feeling of finding two separate puzzle pieces that fit together perfectly. One wouldn’t work without the other, but together, everything is perfect.
James’ lyrics themselves are more poetic than pop music. You probably won’t be belting these out while they play, but perhaps that’s the beauty in it all. Listen, move, and enjoy – there’s certainly nothing wrong with that. Enjoy “Belispeak” below and look forward their first full length LP, Soulja Boy, in the coming year. And yes, that album title is inspired by who you think. As 2011 winds to a close, this is certainly a band worth keeping up in the coming year.
Written by Greg Dahman