Release Date: Mar 3, 2015
Record label: 4AD
Genre(s): Electronic, Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Indie Electronic
Purity Ring have held stake to the claim of “most copied indie band of the last two years.” Like TV on the Radio and Animal Collective who came before them, having this title puts pressure on an artist to do something different yet still impactful the next time around. And this is where we find Purity Ring, on their sophomore album, Another Eternity, with producer Corin Roddick embracing a deeper influence in hip-hop and trap beats to pair with Megan James’ smooth, atmospheric and anatomical lyrics. The story of Purity Ring’s now-actualized evolution starts on Danny Brown’s “25 Bucks,” the most forward-thinking hip-hop track of 2013.
When Canadian synthpop duo Purity Ring released their first album Shrines in 2012, the indie market was already crowded with similar ethereal pop artists that were building or just starting their careers, from Grimes, Chvrches, Io Echo, and Chairlift. Shrines, with its peculiar combination of trap beats, stuttering samples, melodic bells and synths provided by producer Corin Roddick, and singer Megan James’ gentle, gliding voice, still stood out among the crowded field, managing to peak at number two on the US Dance/Electronic Albums chart and even net the duo a spot on the shortlist for Canada’s 2013 Polaris Music Prize. Such critical and commercial acclaim for a debut, especially from an indie electronic group unaided by major label publicity, is a remarkable accomplishment, and if nothing else, it means the music is working.
After the surge of ethereal electronic bands that arrived in the wake of Shrines, Purity Ring's Megan James and Corin Roddick wanted their second album to stand out from the pack. On Another Eternity, they do just that -- by becoming more pop. Where Shrines often felt exploratory, this album is direct, possibly because they worked in physical proximity for the first time, choosing Edmonton as a home base.
In this follow-up to their widely praised debut, Shrines, Canadian duo Purity Ring develop their “future pop” by combining R&B and dance with pop influences to create an intelligent, more confident sound that, in continuing the earthy and timeless poetic lyrics of Shrines, is distinctly their own. The most interesting songs couple uneven rhythms and admirably sparse beats, best exemplified on the single Push Pull. As a whole, the album could do with slightly more counterbalance to the several anthemic tracks, but the delicate final song, Stillness in Woe, is a welcome, dreamy reprieve.
The success of Purity Ring's debut set the group up for big things. Their work with hip-hop artists like Danny Brown and Ab-Soul suggested that Corin Roddick and singer Megan James' follow-up would take a more beat-oriented approach, but Another Eternity bucks those expectations, doubling down on the sound that netted them a slot on the 2013 Polaris Music Prize short list.Roddick and James don't rest on their laurels, though. After creating Shrines across a geographic void, the duo actually sat in a room together to compose this opus, the back and forth between the two yielding a more clear-eyed sound and vision.
Portmanteaus swarmed the tracklist of Purity Ring’s first album, Shrines, where singer and lyricist Megan James knit old words together into new mutants. The poetry she wove through the music described bodily horrors oblique enough to be terrifying. Her delivery, coy and often smeared with effects, compounded the discomfort. Another Eternity is less concerned with cracking ribs and oily pastes.
Purity Ring's stage name—a reference to the promise rings worn, and often hastily abandoned, by Christian teens as a pledge to chastity—suggests a wry sense of humor, one that was subtly reflected in the macabre lyrics of the Canadian duo's debut, Shrines. Icy and cerebral, with song titles that evoked the anatomy of cadavers, the album successfully passed off lyrics like “Drill little holes into my eyelids/That I might see you when I sleep” as earnest pledges of devotion. The pair largely eschews such so-called guffaws on their sophomore effort, another eternity, but they display a willingness to more intrepidly embrace the pop underpinnings of Shrines.
When Purity Ring posted ‘Push Pull’, the first track from their second album, ‘Another Eternity’, on YouTube last December, a ding-dong broke out among commenters about how to define the kind of music the Canadian duo – producer Corin Roddick and vocalist/lyricist Megan James – make. You could label their beat-heavy but sweetly melodic sound trap, indie, electro, witch-house or dreampop and be accurate on all counts.You’d imagine Purity Ring – who formed in Edmonton, Canada in 2010 – enjoy being hard to define. At their core they’re an electronic pop group, but they’re signed to 4AD, a label with a fiercely strong indie tradition.
In early 2011, Purity Ring showed us the perfect balance for "future pop": Be ahead of your time, but not toofar ahead."Belispeak" and "Ungirthed" perfectly anticipated the reframing of indie pop as festival-ready "Internet music", and when Shrines came out, about a year later, the Edmonton duo saw their star rise alongside the similarly-minded polyglots like Grimes, kindred spirits who helped shift the sonic paradigm further away from guitars. But if pop listeners come for the songs, they tend to stay for the personalities, and this is the issue facing Purity Ring on another eternity. On their debut, Megan James and Corin Roddick were hard to read and analysis-averse, and they remain so.
Purity Ring's debut was one of 2012's most lauded releases. A sublime future-pop gem, Shrines combined astral beats, ethereal electro, and deceptively dark lyrics; surviving the tsunami of hype that surrounded it, by turning out to be a genuinely great record. Laying the foundations for a style that has been much imitated in the intervening years, as skittering electronica and twee falsetto, slowly burn deep into the core of mainstream chart music.
If we dispense with electro-pop futurism—you know, the grand suggestion that the contemporary dance music genres ought to all merge and vaguely transcend—we might instead just uplift (and, ahem, buy) the best shit, discard whatever falters, and happily split that difference. We might enjoy music "on its own terms," as they say. If you prefer your pop music clear-eyed and uncluttered—in contrast with the high-octane culture-mashing of Girl Talk or Future Brown—here you have Purity Ring, a haunting pop singularity that's hardly out to remake the world or reinvent genres, even as the genres warp and bend around them.
Dip a solitary pinky toe into ‘another eternity,’ and at first it feels surprisingly temperate on the tootsies; far lighter and less demonic than Purity Ring’s debut album ‘Shrines’. It partly comes down to having a few years to get acclimatised to Megan James and Corin Roddick’s skittering, on-edge exorcisms of secret diaries. After all, when the Canadian duo first rolled up to England in 2012 with their touch sensitive light-up bulrushes and whiskey swigging, they shook things up and went after tedium in electronic music with a cattle prod.
"Meet me in the back shed/I'll be hanging up the knives," Purity Ring's Megan James sings on the Canadian duo's second album. Their music is as creepy and alluring as her invitation would suggest. Producer Corin Roddick crafts stark tracks that find a middle ground between lustrous synth pop and the plush, cavernous hip-hop of hot producers like Mike Will Made It — a sound that's perfectly suited to James' sensual, unburdening lyrics.
Three years ago – or as the press release esoterically asserts, 64 fortnights – Purity Ring’s mesmerising debut Shrines enraptured fans and the music press with a record that sounded like the future. Purity Ring, along with the likes of Grimes and Poliça enamoured not just those in the independent music world, but gained an even wider audience through their equal suitability to sound-track the lives of the rich bright-young-things in Channel 4’s Made in Chelsea. Although it has only been three years since Shrines, Purity Ring and their peers have already left some pretty influential waves in their wake.
Head here to submit your own review of this album. When Shrines, the debut album from Canadian duo Purity Ring came out in 2012, this idea that indie music could be highly digitised and contain all the impulses and immediacies of pop music whilst still sounding indie barely existed. And it's true, first album treated melody and phrasing in such a distinct way that the term 'sounds like purity ring' became synonymous with any new act who dared to write subtly intelligent, infectiously melodic songs with glossy, meticulously programmed electronic sounds.
At what point does future pop become, just, pop? When Purity Ring’s first album Shrines arrived in 2012, their self-styled description definitely fitted. This was different. This was alien. This could definitely be the sound of the future. Skip forward almost three years and their second record ….
The slow, stoned, screwed traits of Purity Ring’s debut may have snagged the ear of the hip-hop left field such as Danny Brown, Ab-Soul and Angel Haze, but the Canadian duo gun for teen pop and EDM on their second. However, such is their ability to mutate the qualities of the current top 10 that you almost wish vocalist Megan James and producer Corin Roddick would donate their productions to chart behemoths in need of an indie crossover single, rather than creating an average alt-pop hybrid themselves. In Purity Ring’s hands, it’s a sober take on structures that should be joyous and ebullient, from Stranger Than Earth’s euro-trance synths, to the skewered Skrillex-indebted Flood on the Floor or the Disney cuteness of Push Pull.
Purity Ring’s rapid ascent over the last few years deserves its share of skepticism, as it would be easy to think that the success of the Edmonton-based duo is a mere apparition, the right combination of luck and skill and Internet hype. The group birthed a made-up genre—future pop—drawn from standalone singles that seemed dropped from the sky. Purity Ring subsequently became the subject of an indie label bidding war (4AD won), and has gone on to collaborate with rappers Ab-Soul and Danny Brown and remix Lady Gaga.
1,242 kilometers separate Halifax and Montreal, Canada. This is pertinent. For these were the two cities that Shrines, Purity Ring’s debut LP, was remotely conceived between. another eternity, the band’s second LP, sees Megan James and Corin Roddick recording an album in the same studio for the first time.
Teasing its way closer to mainstream pop, Purity Ring plays complex games of approach and evasion on its second album, “Another Eternity.” Then again, pop has been approaching Purity Ring, too, as pop, hip-hop and electronic dance music have raided one another’s ideas. Purity Ring is a duo from Canada — Megan James on vocals and Corin Roddick on instruments — whose 2012 debut album, “Shrines,” was electronic pop filled with strategic holes of sound and sense. Ms.
After Purity Ring's 2012 breakthrough debut, Shrines, shot to the number-one spot on iTunes' electronic chart and was named best new music by Pitchfork, there were, understandably, huge expectations for the follow-up. Three years later, Purity Ring's sophomore effort lives up to the anticipation. The Halifax-Montreal duo escaped to Edmonton to write Another Eternity together, a huge change from their debut, when beatmaker Corin Roddick and vocalist Megan James collaborated cross-country via email.
opinion byMATTHEW MALONE With the ridiculous amount of crossover genres that seem to be born every other week in the 2010s (CDM, country dance music, is a personal favorite), it’s become difficult to track down the true pioneers of a sound. No finite group of artists invented chillwave, say, like Amon Düül and Tangerine Dream developed Krautrock back in 1968. And as much as Purity Ring was just another indie boy-girl duo bobbing their heads to the evolution of underground electropop, the sound of Shrines was groundbreaking.