Purity Ring : Shrines
Megan James and Corin Roddick played piano and drums prior to the formation of Purity Ring, but you would be hard-pressed to find either of those instruments present on their debut, Shrines. Instead, they’ve immersed themselves in a glitchy, R&B-influenced sound that is remarkably slick and assured for a first effort from a pair of young musicians. The odd, conjoined song titles (Crawlersout, Fineshrine, Saltkin) may recall label-mates Cocteau Twins, but this Canadian duo have more in common with the new wave of ethereal pop that takes its cues from hip hop.
The poetic, often surreal lyrics have a freeform quality, taking on the subject of love through either enveloping someone or being enveloped by them. “Cut open my sternum and pull my little ribs around you” invites James on album highlight Fineshrine, while Saltkin’s swinging chorus is “There’s a cult inside of me”. In the gorgeous closing track Shuck, James offers to “take up your guts to the little shed outside”. It sounds much less creepy when delivered in her sweet, angelic voice.
The music also gets its power from the interplay between the sweetness of the vocals and the harsher elements of the music and lyrics. Roddick’s beats manage to echo the amorphous subject matter, with the spaces between the beats having as much impact as the beats themselves. Shrines creates a fantastical world with much to explore, but it’s also grounded and instantly inviting.
BY CHRIS GIRDLER
Best Track: Fineshrine
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In A Word: Smooth