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CD Review: “Shrines” by Purity Ring

Posted on the 02 August 2012 by Kdcoduto @katydee

I have been waiting for Purity Ring’s debut album for months. I first saw Megan James and Corin Roddick open for Neon Indian at the Grog Shop in November. Since then, I’ve followed their progression from relative unknowns into indie hype darlings. As more and more songs were released, it seemed as though the buzz surrounding James and Roddick would be too much. 

How can one band live up to that much hype, especially when it’s coming from the likes of Pitchfork and Spin, to name just a few?

CD Review: “Shrines” by Purity Ring

Roddick, far left, and James, far right, with my friend and me after Purity Ring’s show with Neon Indian in Cleveland.

Luckily, Purity Ring have delivered. Shrines is wonderful in that it doesn’t overshoot its goals. Roddick and James know what they’re good at, and they master that time and again. As its their debut album, they don’t take a lot of time to explore new territory, and that’s alright. They don’t need to tread unfamiliar waters.

Instead, they spend nearly 40 minutes crafting songs that are pop at heart but shrouded in creepiness. James has a soft voice, often almost a whisper, but it gets sampled so frequently that it doesn’t come across as anything normal. This starts right away in “Crawlersout,” and lasts through the final bars of “Shuck.” When she sings about having her ribs torn out in “Fineshrine,” the cuteness of her voice contrasts with the darkness of the lyrics in a way that can only make your spine shiver.

A lot of other critics have criticized “Grandloves,” which includes Young Magic doing vocals. I don’t necessarily think that criticism is fair, as it’s the one time on the whole album that Purity Ring veers off in any direction other than the one they established at the beginning. Young Magic raps over Roddick’s samples, and even that still maintains a degree of creepy. Many have said that this doesn’t do justice to Purity Ring; however, in the context of the whole album, “Grandloves” flows nicely where it is. There’s no reason to hate this one song because it’s slightly different from the rest of the Purity Ring formula. It also might be an indication as to where they’re heading in the future, especially with more and more alternative rap emerging.

Shrines is a great debut album. It sets a Purity Ring standard, and it’s a rock that they can fall back on. With Shrines, Purity Ring have given themselves the solid footing to really take off. They’ve already had people talking for almost a year. Shrines has given more people more reason to talk, and there’s no reason to believe that Purity Ring are done fueling the hype.

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