Review Summary: Sleek, sexy, ultra-modern electronic pop with a deceptively dark underbelly…
Purity Ring have had more buzz emanating from them than a wasp’s arse ever since audio of sublime cuts like ‘Lofticries’ fluttered around YouTube and the like. Their mysterious, under-wraps approach has only added to the Canadian duo’s appeal, and so it’s joyous to finally witness the time for them to step out of the shadows and present LP number 1, ‘Shrines’. That joy does not dissolve like a ripple of synth in one the 11 tunes on offer here, but blossom and evolve as one hears what surely has to be one of 2012’s finest albums unfold over the course of 40 outstanding minuets.
It’s all about streams of misty, sensual synths sliding across each other, flowing against an ever slight resistance, like fingers gliding through water. Set against this are laid back beats, minimal yet hooky, and ethereal, toned down Claire ‘Grimes’ Boucher-esque vocals (who coincidentally is a 4AD label mate). It seems simple on its beautiful surface but the Purity Ring formula treads a deeper route than first assumed. Megan James’ sensual, echo-laden voice deceptively utters such un-pure sentiments as “cut open my sternum and pull my little ribs around you” (on the brilliant ‘Fineshrine’), like a sexy yet simultaneously disturbing siren. It’s dark moody music masquerading as sleek modern electro pop, in other words, and all the more lasting and intriguing for it.
The music is as juxtaposing too, with ‘Lofticries’ sounding streamlined and as perfectly simple as anything but filtering in new layers as the seconds tick. Those dragged out synth lines, murmuring like muffled ghost cries, are pepped up by vaguely oriental twinkling keyboards and choppy drum machine snaps and claps. ‘Fineshrine’ sounds like a joyous pop song doused in murky black water, with only glimmers of gold shining through, making for another grade A tune. ‘Ungirthed’, the track that comes after, is another belter, a choppy, clipped melody enriched by wobbly bass shudders and quirky samples dotted here and there.
The set just refuses to wain on quality, play after play, with mysterious and subtly melancholic numbers such as ‘Obedear’ set at the back; it’s as consistent and brilliant a listen as you’re likely to hear all year. The piece also feels of a part but manages to find enough room to show distinction, with ‘Grandloves’ throwing in curveball male vocals in the midst of its drowned R&B vibe. There’s more that could be said about Purity Ring but not much that would be worthwhile as such time could be spent unearthing the glory of these subtle, uber-modern alt pop songs, absorbing their layers of glistening light and devilish darkness. Purely brilliant; sinful to miss.
Highlights: ‘Fineshrine’, ‘Ungirthed’, ‘Obedear’, ‘Belispeak’ ‘Lofticries’