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Purity Ring - graves Music Album Reviews

Purity Ring - graves Music Album Reviews
On the follow-up to 2020’s WOMB, the duo is torn between looking back and moving forward. Mostly, they add layers of polish to their familiar electro-pop sound.

Eleven years ago, when Purity Ring released their breakout single, “Ungirthed,” the pairing of dirty South-style rap beats and twee synth pop was remarkably novel. Even during the heyday of witch-house artists like SALEM and oOoOO, nothing quite compared to the contrast between producer Corin Roddick’s whimsical grit and Megan James’ macabre yet sweetly sung lyrics. The Edmonton, Alberta, duo had captured lightning in a bottle, and they continued to harness its spark across three albums.

That’s not to say Purity Ring have never tried new things. In 2015, their sophomore album, another eternity, seemed meant to counter any accusation that the 11 songs on 2012’s Shrines were all variations on one great idea. Roddick added fluorescent EDM synths and stately piano to his 808-driven rhythms; James began experimenting with a more explicitly pop-oriented cadence and elocution. WOMB, their moodier third album, was in many ways a beefed-up return to form—girded with rich atmospherics, heavier synths, and processed vocal hooks on par with contemporary chart-toppers.

Two years after WOMB, the graves EP is firmly rooted in the same subtle reconfiguration that comes with each new Purity Ring release. Some songs even sound outright regressive, which isn’t always bad. James has said that the title track “has been haunting us for eight straight years,” and its bouncy trance chords and glowing piano clearly recall the euphoric rushes on another eternity. The touches of 2010s nostalgia are charming, but less so when “nthngsfine” and “unlucky” evoke an overproduced and undercooked Shrines. When James breathily sings, “How lucky you are to be so unlucky, breaking onto the rooftops over Waikiki,” amid clouds of effects and reversed synths, it sounds both convoluted and ill-fitting. Simple compositions and evocative lyrics were integral parts of Purity Ring, and without them, the music feels more like a glittery spectacle than an immersive pop world.

With every layer of polish shellacked onto their core sound, the people behind Purity Ring’s genre tropes and dark poetics grow increasingly obscured. James has always favored evocative abstractions in her lyrics, but there’s less to grasp here than before. Small illustrative moments appear (“You sailed away on a sunken boat,” goes a memorable line in “neverend”), but they’re often undercut by non-sequiturs (“This city’s fucked but how’d you know about the side road”) or throwaway refrains (“Spinning like you never end, just do it again let’s do it again”). “watersong” is a fine little ditty with an interestingly choppy synth line and sticky melody, but it’s riddled with vocal quirks and half-baked lyrics that interrupt the song’s easygoing flow. At best, James’ angelic lilt can elevate her words beyond meaning. At worst, her over-pronunciation, heavy vocal processing, and awkward word choices can kill a track’s momentum and leave it thematically barren.

James and Roddick occasionally find their stride, and even occasionally set foot in new territory. After their familiar pop pastiche takes on a palatial quality in the first half of “neverend,” the song slips into a broken and emotive electronica that brings to mind early-aughts glitch-pop producers like Dntel and Schneider TM, with James’ incomparable voice gliding effortlessly through the noise. “soshy” tries out a 4/4 dance beat with Roddick’s time-stretched synths and pitched samples, and the snappy, sumptuous arrangement pairs impeccably with James’ gentle singsong. It ends up feeling like a “Hold On We’re Going Home” or “Passionfruit” moment on a Drake record, treating us to an unexpected side of an artist that outshines some of their best-known music.

Closing the EP is a short, sparse piano instrumental that sounds unlike anything else here. Played by hand and recorded intimately, “xsalt” feels like a huge breath letting air into Purity Ring’s hermetically sealed electro pop, expanding its frame and shaking out the settling dust. The melody is quaint and tender, with inconsistencies that make it sound improvised. You can hear the wooden creaks in the room and the pillowy impact of each key being pushed down. Simply put, it feels authentic and alive—a revealing piece of music on an EP otherwise awash in effects and affectation.

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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Purity Ring - graves Music Album Reviews Purity Ring - graves Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Tuesday, June 14, 2022 Rating: 5

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