Thursday, February 26, 2015

Another Eternity | Purity Ring


Just under two and a half years ago, the world was introduced to Purity Ring through their debut album, Shrines, which landed on many online year-end lists as one of 2012's best albums. The Canadian electronic project, composed of vocalist Megan James and producer Corin Roddick, recorded and produced all of that debut album from separate locations and were still able to make a quality album; impressive, eh?  The sessions for this new album, Another Eternity, were the first times that the duo were able to meet together in a studio, and the output meets an even higher standard.

As showcased on lead single "Push Pull," the duo has traded out intricate electronic landscapes for an equally-impressive atmospheric style. On Shrines, James's voice was embedded in a pile of well-executed synth runs and samples, but this time around, her vocals ring over the minimalistic, yet captivating, backdrops orchestrated by Roddick. From the percussion-heavy "Heartsigh" to the brooding "Dust Hymn," each track in the set exudes the duo's refined skills proudly with streamlined instrumentation and stronger emphasis on vocal work. Even "Repetition," a track that immerses listeners in a sea of sweeping synthesizers and echoing ad-libs, allows James to come out on top. 

The significance behind many of the duo's lyrics are still indecipherable at first listen, but there are bound to be some extravagant meanings behind the well-versed pieces; it just takes time to crack the metaphoric code. (There are probably a few superficial songs in the blend. Shrines included a song about two siblings killing their sexually-abusive parent and a few love songs, among others, so anything is possible.) If you can't manage to crack the codes, you can at least start learning how to sing the songs backwards (both the melody and the lyrics) like James did for a music video.

Another Eternity peels back some of the murky layers of Purity Ring's product; while Shrines-era Purity Ring most closely resembled the musical styling of their labelmate Grimes, the group is now conveyed as a darker reincarnate of fellow Canadian synthpop artist Lights. Shrines may have given them a cult following via indie blog seals of approval, but the new approach on Another Eternity could blast them to new heights. The album carries a palatable pop formulation, but James and Roddick still emphasize quality; each detail is fine-tuned to emphasize every climax and emotion. The two have not created radio-friendly synthpop by any means, though. Instead, they have mastered quality synthpop production, and lyrically, they have retained their enigmatic tendencies.

Another Eternity will be released on March 3, 2015 through 4AD. 

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