Purity Ring = Unison + Grimes + (Passion Pit – Michael Angelakos) + Anatomy 101
Purity Ring’s debut album showed promise long before 4AD picked up the Canadian synth-pop duo for an international release. Sweet and weightless, “Ungirthed” fluttered onto the Web in early 2011, followed by the darker nuances emerging from the minor-key implementation in “Belispeak.” Then, the ethereal and imaginative “Obedear” came into the limelight, and, finally, the playfully physical single “Fineshrine” popped up before we were awarded the full-length. Shrines is a beautiful contradiction of icy, synthetic start-and-stops created by Corin Roddick, and the sugar-dipped ghost vocals of Megan James dissecting through the cold mass of chimes with awkward, gut-wrenching lyrics. Though the choppy hip hop beats, dubstep wobbles and breathy witch house elements initially draw the listener in with exterior superficiality, a few more close listens reveal a poetic push-and-pull between the instrumentals and songwriting that beg for deconstruction. James’ mouthfuls of death and decay (“They’ll weave their own souls into the frame to grow their foliage in/They’ll sew their own hands into their beds to keep them crawlers out”) and her use of nature to illustrate her dark themes (“The crawling animals will seek all things warm, all things moist”) create a meaty heartbeat successfully thriving inside the fabricated epidermis of music. Shrines is an electric current running through the veins of a regenerated corpse: It is a drop of life-building DNA trapped inside a grip of hardened amber: It is a floating micro-organism replicating in the cracked river beds of Mars. If you can’t seem to hear the sound of a bloody, cut-out heart wrapped in tin foil, Shrines will still find a way to implant—it’s a damn catchy album.