If you know me, then you knew this was coming. This is probably going to be a long one so you might as well get settled it. So, Shrines (which actually just celebrated it’s 1 year anniversary) was released last July (the 24th) through Last Gang Records, which is MY favorite electronic label and probably my favorite Canadian label as they also host bands such as Crystal Castles, Chromeo, Death From Above 1979, Metric, MSTRKRFT, etc. etc. etc., needless to say, IMO, they are a staple of the Canadian music industry. Last Gang has never done me wrong.
There was some hype surrounding the release of Purity Ring’s debut and up until my first listen of the album, I hadn’t even heard a single (basically all of my knowledge of new music comes through the workplace so any/all hype I get comes from my coworkers). When it landed I ended up actually being the only one who enjoyed the album. I listened to it, liked it, listened to it again, loved it, and then I think I’ve probably listened to it once or twice a week since it’s release; I’m obsessed with it. It was the recipient of Pitchfork’s “Best New Music” with a rating of 8.4, but The Needle Drop awarded it a 6/10 (and love or hate his opinion, I always have to give the guy respect because he touches on things I would have never thought to listen for).
I’ve always been an electronic fan, specifically electropop (MGMT, Chromeo, what have you), I’ve dabbled in early Deadmau5 records (Random Album Title, For Lack Of A Better Name), I was there when Skrillex got his break (I WAS THERE, MAN!!!!) but Purity Ring is the group that hooked me on a whole new level of electronic, and of course, for all of the genre whores out there, I’m not talking about Dream Pop. Beach House, Grimes, The XX, and if you want to go on a more alternative/indie route, we’re talkin’ Beach Fossils, DIIV, Psychic Ills, all that good stuff. But because throughout most of my high school career Dubstep had a pretty profound influence, the heavy bass/synth on Shrines is one of the things that caught my immediate attention.
Purity Ring is a duo consisting of Megan James (I swear the most adorable front-woman I’ve ever seen in my life) and Corin Roddick, who I now have an absolute fascination with. Purity Ring is floaty, dreamy, spacey, glitchy, all sorts of words ending with “Y”. But the heavy eletronic aspect is there, and it’s apparent on tracks like Cartographist and Amenamy which is absolutely carried by this humongous bass synth that just reels me in.
One thing I will touch on that The Needle Drop does fairly state is that although Megan James does have a sweet (/adorable) voice, she doesn’t really have all that much range. The highest she hits is probably in Grandloves (Feat. Young Magic who they subsequently toured with on the Shrines tour [I saw them at The Phoenix in Toronto in Feb. of 2013]) but besides that she does tend to stay on the safe side of her voice and doesn’t take a lot of chances. One thing they do though, lyrically, is they make up words. For me this is reminiscent of Sigur Ros (which is actually far more impressive because they made up an entire fake language, but the comparison is there) and it makes the listening experience much more enjoyable for myself. They have these kooky song names and subject matter that really don’t make a whole lot of sense but it suits their style; it suits the name, it suits the album artwork. Purity Ring is on another plain of existence.
Before I offer up my favorite track(s) (I’m going to post 2 here because I can’t pick just one, that’s blasphemy) I just thought it was worth nothing that a remix of Belispeak was posted featuring a performance by Danny Brown which is awesome/hilarious as always; worth checking out, here’s the link:
My choice track(s) for Shrines are: Amenamy - opens with their trademark vocal pitch/chops and into this giant bass synth and just flows so effortlessly into the chorus. There’s these single shimmery synth notes that pop up every now and again and it just gives the track such an uplifting but not necessarily happy, feeling.
Grandloves - I’m gonna go crude on all your asses and say that this is definitely the best fuck song on Shrines. Megan James is singing in the most adorable (and also Grimes-esque) way on the album and there’s a ridiculously sexy vocal performance from Young Magic’s frontman Isaac Emmanuel (the vocals are actually a sample from Young Magic’s original track “You With Air” although he does perform them live with Purity Ring). This track is just as spacey but 10x more laid back than any other tune on the album.