Purity Ring – Shrines – Album Review

When an artist decides to strike out and make a truly inspired album, they take a gamble. There are many who emulate popular music taking a safe route to fame, and even others whose talent is pried from them and put into a neatly folded package to be sealed and delivered to the masses through popular channels (Muchos gracias, Simon Cowell, et al.)

For the truly inspired however, there is never a choice. Perhaps the motivation is simply to make the type of music they want to hear themselves. With Purity Ring, it’s easy to tell where their motivation comes from. To create such an original sound led by a non-traditional-sounding female vocalist and put it out into the world to be embraced or not takes guts – an enviable confidence.

I first heard Purity Rings breakthrough single “Ungirthed” (note: mildly NSFW) last summer and it shot straight to the top of my playlist. The few listens I got of it on my laptop brought me a thrill. Once it got into the stereo in my car, its genius and exceptional engineering broke through into a sunny feeling of satisfaction, smiles, and high fives. The sound is exceptionally well designed and produced, to be enjoyed with the bass thumping and equalizer finely tuned. There is just too much going on that would be sorely missed otherwise. The production values herald back to a time where albums were produced to have subtleties and variations usually reserved for hi-fi stereos, and largely lost in current popular music. To experience that level of engineering quality in the new digital era of music is what Purity Ring accomplishes best. The result has the effect of simplifying the cajoled, grown-up mind. The sound itself conjures images of long summers and sneaky adventures. The depth of it allows the listener to enjoy it in a quiet setting of reflection, or a bustling patio with your favourite summer drink.

From start to finish, the album isn’t full of hits, at least from my own perspective, but varying tastes will take different things from it and different personalities will prefer certain songs over others. Lyrically, it doesn’t inspire poetically, but musically, I highly recommend it. Take a cue from me and mix it with your favourite summer vice, enjoy it loud, and be sure to program whatever device you listen with to highlight as much of the intricacies as possible.

Shrines (4AD / ADA) is not an album for the masses, but for discerning music lovers who value originality and creativity fused with masterful craftsmanship. Purity Ring walk their own path in a forest planted by a select few who came before them, but instead of emulation chose innovation. There are music fans among us already primed for just such a band, and many more who will be easily won over and eager to hear more.

You can support Purity Ring by purchasing Shrines from Amazon or iTunes. Catch them at the Biltmore Cabaret on September 7 with Evian Christ and Headaches.