Purity Ring – Shrines

I don’t think I’m the only person to switch off whenever I hear about the next new thing in the post-dubstep synthpop alternative dance genre. Well call me a hypocrite, because here is one of those bands. And believe me when I say these guys really are worth a minute in your headphones.


If you’ve only heard one of the three or so singles preceding the album, you’ll know what I’m talking about. Their name is a fitting one; there’s a certain sense of perfection surrounding this Canadian duo’s music. They seem to be striving for an aesthetic, merging all the purest elements of current dance music and condensing it into an organic, crystalline liquid.


One of the distinguishing marks of Purity Ring is Megan James’ shimmering vocals and enigmatic lyrics. For my part, I’ve yet to hear someone sing the line ‘I will relentlessly shame myself’, and still keep their dignity. Pairing this with Corin Roddick’s flawless production and well-placed beats makes for a powerful yet delicate sound. It’s the nexus of this balance that elevates Purity Ring from the dregs surrounding the genre they work within.


Shrines rises and falls from the cloudy summits of “Fineshrine” to the murky “Cartography” and troubled “Obedear”. Resigning themselves to neither a poppy nor a dark sound, Purity Ring’s only misstep is on “Grandloves” with the intrusion of guest vocals from Young Magic’s Isaac Emmanuel. His whiny voice only fails to impress when paired closely with James’.


In essence – Shrines is not just another dance album sold on one good single. The music is original, lucid and just downright good. It’s hard to think of a better word to describe it. Expect to find this on more than one end-of-year list, and expect people to not stop talking about it too.

Chris Bennigsen