Canadian electro-pop duo Purity Ring have returned with their new album Another Eternity. One may wonder what they’ve been doing in the two years since the release of their triumphant 2012 debut Shrines, and by the sounds of it they probably haven’t been doing all that much. Another Eternity seems pretty much an updated, overdone version of Shrines; with more trap-beats and spooky vocals than there are braids in FKA Twigs’ hair (an obvious influence, though Purity Ring show far less artistic initiative). Their second album is more an attempt at chart than charming. Their last album topped the iTunes electronic chart, so again and again the shuddering hi-hats and synths throughout Another Eternity play out too much like what the artists are perhaps attempting to push their new album into the heart of: chart-selling EDM. This is a musical sequel in its worst form, erring dangerously towards a disingenuous attempt at renewal.
It’s sad but I can name five artists who exhibit a better, more genuine attempt at what Purity Ring have done with their new album (previously mentioned FKA Twigs, Grimes, SZA, Tove Lo, XXANAXX). Female-fronted dance-pop acts are a dime a dozen and Purity Ring’s return hasn’t set them apart from the crowd. Their first album was received with wide acclaim for its quirky intricacy and crystalline production. Another Eternity, however, lacks the understated eloquence or uniqueness that its predecessor was praised for. Cosmic pop has become common lot and unfortunately for artists like Purity Ring unless some actual progression or improvement takes place between albums, they can probably expect to descend back into YouTube obscurity, known as the band that were once relevant but now just sound like a walk around Topshop.
There are, however, a few moments where it is possible to be absorbed into the music without squinting. Most of the tracks would no doubt be cast into the ‘dream-pop’ category (in this case more like Pokémon-EDM but who’s judging?). Songs like ‘Repetition’ or ‘Begin Again’ do a pretty good job at creepy, low-fi musical seduction. No doubt Purity Ring’s more dulled, chilled songs are where their talent shines through. With deep drum-beats and softer more natural vocals, songs like ‘Stranger Than Earth’ do hold a tension that makes their playing out certainly interesting. It is this tension, when the duo build up their songs rather than just loudly laying it all out to their audience like a buffet at a ten year olds birthday party, that makes for good listening. Unfortunately even their most promising tracks, in the case of ‘Stranger Than Earth’, can’t resist culminating in some sort of pseudo-epic electro denouement involving a brash out of tune synth-orchestra.
Another Eternity is certainly an efficient album, with no song more than 4 minutes long, it’s comparable to a very short lucid dream, albeit one that has been auto-tuned and repeated to death. There are times when listening that you may question whether you are actually in a pokéball. The failure of the album really lies in its contradictory attempt at blinding sunniness with some sort of a seductive galactic edge. Its lyrics prove that just because you wear pink doesn’t mean you can’t be ‘emo’, with songs like ‘Stillness In Woe’ doing exactly what they say on the tin. Maybe back in 2012 cosmic pop with an ethereal female voice and a typical trap beat underneath was what we all wanted, so in that case the album certainly does make you feel young again – yet unfortunately almost regressively so. This is for sure a disappointing return for once-relevant Purity Ring.
By Charlotte Morrin