Songs can mean many different things to different people, an unlimited array of associations… for me, much of Shrines means walking out my front door, into the blinding day or black night. It is a forced change of perspective.
Purity Ring has sharpened its sound into a concise message that is not quite like anything else out there. The first element that will stick out to most listeners is the otherworldly voice. Complete with sprinklings of old (olde?) English, the vocals hover somewhere between ancient and futuristic, but decidedly not somewhere common. Human anatomy is a recurring theme. Ribs, eyelids, teeth, little legs and the storyteller’s own sternum all make appearances, gross and fantastic. It is as if she has turned herself inside out, inspected herself piece by piece, pulled herself back together with some forgotten faerie magic, and come back with that voice and these tales.
The production features a mix of human (snaps, voices used as part of beats) and inhuman elements. Backbeats are sometimes soaking wet, sometimes bone dry, sometimes covering both extremes in the space of a single bar. Purity Ring is often at its best when being patient with song arrangements. The listener will find liberal use of space, within what at some level are basically pop structures. The band occasionally drops out the beat entirely, for an almost uncomfortable amount of time, bringing it back in to great effect. Syncopated hi-hat and snares are used to alternately make the listener feel safely sheltered, or that one is on the verge of falling over – the magnificent Belispeak is an example of this kind of manipulation.
Shrines is a focused, unique work. The world Purity Ring has created is disturbing and wonderful.