Select Page

Two out of Three HeadphonesAlbum: Shrines

Artist: Purity Ring

Year: 2012


As a genre, experimental rock isn’t particularly descriptive.  With sub-genres including everything from house music to math rock to what is essentially instrumental post rock, albums placed under the experimental heading often struggle to define themselves.

Case in point is the trippy and somewhat magical-sounding album Shrines from the Canadian duo Purity Ring.  Comprising the angelic and wispy vocals of Megan James and the deep-house beats and electronic tracks of Corin Roddick, Purity Ring has the dark, gothic feel of a witch-house album, but could almost just as easily be compared to the creations of artists like Bjork or Deerhoof.

Purity Ring is a strange contradiction of sound, but one that is immediately bewitching.  On Shrines, James’ lyrics are creepy and corporeal, referencing the body both in sexual and creepily clinical terms.  Her voice is light and innocent and when she sings about longing, death and other grim and serious topics, the effect is unsettling in the best possible way.  Mix that with Roddick’s mind-bending electronic tracks and the levels of thematic dissonance increase exponentially.

Roddick’s occasionally heavy-handed use of auto-tune and sliding sub-bass are probably the greatest weakness on Shrines and with Purity Ring as a whole, and yet the listener is likely to forgive these shortcomings as the overall effect of the music is one that draws the listener in to a weird and wonderful world of dark electronic sound.

Shrines is far from perfect as an album. There are some stunning moments throughout, but the occasionally cheesy or cliched beats take a little away from overall enjoyment of this album.  At the same time, Purity Ring is unquestionably talented and Shrines gives us all hope in a bright future for this duo.