Jul 25, 2012 Web Exclusive
Purity Ring frontwoman Megan James once revealed to Under the Radar, partially tongue-in-cheek, that her primary influences were "the five elements of nature." At this nascent stage of the band's career, when they only had the ubiquitously blogged "Lofticries" and "Ungirthed" to their name, there wasn't much to talk about. James' comment resonates, however, when one listens to the band's excellent debut LP Shrines, an enrapturing collection of numbers that takes cues from a wide breadth of styles, ranging from R&B, electro, and modern FM pop, and recombines them to create something akin to an aural equivalent of the alien planet from the Tarkovsky film Solaris—enigmatic, languid, and impossibly gorgeous, woven together with an uncanny facility with off-kilter melody.
The record largely blurs together into a gloriously inscrutable haze, but certain songs resonate as sundry, singular experiences. "Obedear" finds James in a yearning mood, crooning, "All my dreams come back to me/All my wrinkles build on me," as if she's pleading with a psychoanalyst. She is adroitly accompanied by bandmate Corin Roddick's gauzy synths and plinky instrumentation that approximates the nursery rhyme delicacy of a xylophone.
But it's on the aforementioned "Lofticries," here strategically placed as the penultimate number, that the album hits its emotional apex. It's the band's best track, although the rest of the album certainly gives it a run for the money—a sublime amalgamation of Björk's cosmic consternation and Fever Ray's reckless nefariousness, as James invokes stark imagery of "Green, green thunder and the brown, brown rain." It's a naked, vulnerable plea for a new planet, a new start, and a new connection. It's also naïve, wide-eyed idealism at its most quixotic, evincing the imagination of youth at the heart of all the finest music, a quality Purity Ring possess in spades. (www.thepurityring.tumblr.com)
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Average reader rating: 8/10
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