Despite the almost-wall-of-sound they produce, Purity Ring are a Canadian boy/girl musical duo. It’s not the Canadian thing that’s notable; it’s that this much music can be delivered by just two people.
Purity Ring perform a distinctive blend of vocal-based electro-synth, that paints blissed-out soundscapes that are, frankly, difficult to categorise.
Some arty-farty critics have coined the phrase ‘post dubstep’ to describe Purity ring’s unique sounds. But that’s a cop-out.
What you want, though, is an answer to the question ‘Are Purity Ring any good?’
Well yes, of course they are.
The thing is, though, Shrines – Purity Ring’s debut album – is not really an album-worth of listening, and here’s what I mean.
I caught Purity Ring on the Chevrolet Sound Stage at this year’s South by Southwest Music Festival in Austin, Texas. Purity Ring topped the bill – and all eight bands on the bill, with one notable flat spot – delivered five solid hours of live sounds. Live sounds that were one massive orgasmothrong of music.
When my copy of Shrines recently arrived I jumped on it like an excited schoolboy would jump on the latest fanzine. With sweaty palms I unwrapped the cellophane and carefully slotted the CD in to the drive bay of my laptop. I hit ‘import’. Then I hit ‘play’.
The first track, Crawlersout, awoke memories of Austin. I wanted more. Much more. The second track, the fantastically beautiful, Fineshrine had me jumping up and down, in the kitchen, the way I jumped up and down in the Sound Stage.
With my pulse racing I hungered for the third track. And here’s the unexpected thing. When I started to listen to it I began to feel, well, disappointed.
Megan’s voice sounded as sweetly beautiful as it always has. The instrumentals sounded as freakily funky (in a high-tech way) as they always had. And yet something was missing.
I abandoned Ungirthed and flipped forward to Amenamy. And began to feel another tinge of disappointment.
And then I realised what was missing.
In Austin, Purity Ring were the top of the bill in a packed-out venue. They played to an over-full house. The realisation dawned on me that it had been the feedback from the crowd that helped to make that Purity Ring gig so awesome.
Simply put, the crowd reacted in such a strong way to the evocative other-worldliness of Purity Ring’s instrumental/vocal combination and oddly peculiar sounds; it was the crowd that made Purity Ring’s sound whole.
The live atmosphere added an extra dimension to Purity Ring’s performance, an extra dimension that Purity Ring can’t reproduce in the studio.
Shrines has a couple of stunning tracks on it; the breathtaking Fineshrine and the melodically haunting Obedear. But the album is not Purity Ring. It’s a part of Purity Ring.
If you want something better than Shrines, You need to see Purity Ring live.
And then buy Shrines.
That’s the way to do it.
Shrines by Purity Ring, exam result: B-