For bands just starting out, a sense of self-assuredness is something that must be fostered over time. Being cocky is one thing, but to actually know your point of view from the outset is a rare quality indeed. Often it is the brief flashes of brilliance in the early goings that lure us in and over time we are rewarded by a band’s eventual coming out party, that or they peter out and we never hear from them again. Purity Ring though seem to have totally bypassed these growing pains all together, instead releasing a debut album that makes you think they’ve been at this for a while.
Shrines is a pretty remarkable accomplishment for a band that had but a few singles to their name before laying down these 11 tracks. But, that limited output was enough to convince major indie label 4AD that the Montreal-via-Edmonton duo of Megan James and Corin Roddick were cooking with something special. Their dreamy blend of hip-hop, R&B and pop is indeed special and fits in nicely alongside another 4AD standout and Montrealer, Grimes.
Roddick’s beats set the table for everything on Shrines, and if Clams Casino, Friendzone or SpaceGhostPurrp are known quantities to you then his production work will be to your liking. Taken individually his slowed down movements are straight up naughty slow jams that are easy to get sucked into, but when taken as an album things start to get pretty repetitive and by the end it seems the same beat has been playing out for a while. Luckily though James’ vocals provide the centerpiece, and the vivid pictures she paints are the highlights of the album, especially on standout track ‘Fineshrine’ when she sings, ‘Get a little closer and fold, cut open my sternum and pull’.
Purity Ring have a clear point of view throughout Shrines, they know where they’re going and it’s ever so easy to follow them. The record is ethereal to its core, not unlike 4AD O.G.’s Cocteau Twins, but it also delivers a deceptively powerful wallop when all is said and done. Capturing lightning in a bottle is not something easy to do, but it seems that Purity Ring set out to do just that and achieved. From here their potential goes on for days.