Purity Ring struggles with identity and evolving sound on new album

After the release of their debut album Shrines in 2012, the Canadian electro-pop duo Purity Ring spent three highly anticipated years expanding their sound before issuing their sophomore LP another eternity.

another eternity—released March 3, 2015—takes a decisive jump from the unique sound that embodied Shrines, which delicately merged a buffet of electro-pop, EDM, witch house and trap to name a few. Corin Roddick, producer and half of the duo, stripped away much of the vocal samples, hi-hat rolls and trap beats that clothed their musical persona. In response, the focal point of another eternity seems to be much more on the vocals than the ghostly, yet celestial, cadences of their debut album. another eternity leans closer to a Katy Perry or Taylor Swift-esque pop record than anything else, yet still echoes its own unique voice of the past. This inability to pin a specific genre on Purity Ring may be what makes them so alluring. However, the abandonment of the overcast and hollow sound that so many people fell in love with, exemplified by Shrines’ “Cartographist,” may leave original fans feeling a bit hollow themselves after listening to another eternity.

One thing that has remained constant in Purity Ring’s new album is the gruesome yet strangely innocent lyricism of singer Megan James. When interviewed by the blog City Pages, James explained that she pulls much of her inspiration from dreams or the human body. “I didn’t intend for most of the words that I wrote to ever be heard anyway—it’s actually just private journal entries—but it comes from mostly my own fascination with the relations between human bodies and nature and things like that that I’m pretty inspired and moved by...” James uses a play on the classic phrase ‘sending shivers down my spine’ in “repetition” when she pleads, “Climb up in my rattling spine and I'll contract.” This anatomical symbolism is paralleled throughout the album and is especially prevalent in songs like “push pull” or “stranger than earth.” While some may criticize this lyrical stagnation, I believe it to be the glue that holds together an otherwise lackluster album.

As a comprehensive experience, another eternity provides a pleasing sound, yet leaves one yearning for something deeper. While it is unlikely Purity Ring will stay in the same place for their next release, another eternity remains caught in limbo, somewhere between mainstream pop and indie-electro, with no true identity to call home.

Rating: C+

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