Purity Ring’s “Shrines”: A review

Album review featured in the National Music Centre blog. Check it out, they are the jam.

PURITY RING’S NEW ALBUM SHRINES IS AS TRUE AS THE BAND’S NAMESAKE

For Those Who Like: Stars, Bjork, Gobble Gobble, Flaming Lips, Lakeside Cottage Country, Braids, Beach House

Shrines, Purity Ring‘s first LP, carves out a strong sound and presence – a genuine summer release. Originally from Edmonton, where Megan James and Corin Roddick first began to play together as two of the four-piece Gobble Gobble, they relocated to Montreal and formed Purity Ring in 2010.  Label mates on 4AD with Blonde Redhead, Atlas Sound and St. Vincent, their release is in good company. Through their recent singles and splits, they have built up a following and this LP doesn’t fall short of expectations.

Shrines is shiny and bright electro pop – though it doesn’t fall entirely within that. With catchy synth hooks, hip-hop inspired beats and smooth breathy vocals, Shrines comes close to being just another catchy favourite, but there is something unique about James’ voice over slick arrangements where Roddick plays with everything he can. From the mellow and shimmery “Crawlersout”, to the darkly poppy “Obedear”, and the synth and auto-tune heavy “Amenamy”, the balance is maintained clear through the album. There are plenty of summer memories to create alongside this album and it fits handily in any number of backyard bonfires or warm nights.

Its fuzzy, somewhat smoggy sounds rings of the wave of garage rock coming out of small record labels now, especially those crafted throughout the Canadian landscape. Still, Shrines distinguishes Purity Ring into a new class, something a little different. Purity Ring could just as easily channeled lighter shimmery electro-pop but there is something darker. You can hear the heavier sounds from Gobble Gobble coming through, though if anything it gives it a stronger edge. Changing it from usual to something unexpected.

There is something though that detracts from this album. It is short and sweet, but it is clear that Purity Ring works best in small batches: stellar 7” and 7” splits.  Fat Possum’s 7” split with Braids was a natural fit, for example. However, those sweet summertime moments eventually blend together and Shrines will likely not be immune from that. A solid album, hopefully one that shows even more potential growth for the next release from Purity Ring.

You can stream Shrines now on NPR’s First Listen.

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