Shrines: Purity Ring’s Inaugural LP Elevates Electropop

For Purity Ring, it’s all about flesh, bone and electronics; kind of an interesting juxtaposition really: lyrics saturated with language about land and body, and heavy with effects, are blended with programmed beats and layered synth. This is what you’ll hear on their debut LP, Shrines, and it seems to have hit a sweet spot with indietronica fans.

It’s electropop, with a twist. Catchy, pitch-shifted and twisted in a range of ways, the vocals are more of an additional instrument, being placed in with the music rather than laid over the top. Electronic twitches and timing hiccups abound, but melody is not compromised. The lyrics are obscured by effects, but at times what you can make out are dense phrases that draw images of body parts and landscapes.Vocalist Megan James and producer Corin Roddick’s parts seep into each other in an effective way, creating a unique brand of pop that has caught on quickly.

Continuing with the juxtaposition thread, there is more in the delivery of the lyrics. James’ voice is often sugary, but the lyrics are not, at least not on the surface. In some moments, James uses sensual and violent poetry that seems to have some serious gravitas (redundancy intended for emphasis). “The crawling animals will seek all things warm, all things moist, I will relentlessly shame myself,” on Saltkin, and on the LP’s opening track Crawlersout, “Sea water’s flowing from the middle of my thighs.” In Fineshrine, James sweetly sings, “Cut open my sternum and pull my little ribs around you.”

While the delivery may be dulcet, the content is not light and airy, and the depth that it brings to the music may give you a little something more to chew on than other electropop records these days. Fans of Burial, Bjork and the Knife may want to give this one a listen.