July 18, 2015
Purity Ring in the Electronic Age
by KELSEY HAMM
I have little to complain about when it comes to this generation; or at least, this generation more than older generations. Despite what Time Magazine’s May 26th cover would have you believe, there’s plenty good about the millennial babies.
One trend jades me when it comes to our current social landscape. We all know it from the news, from our jobs, and from checking social media every day. Our modern obsession with keeping current 24/7 is daunting, and often feels frivolous. Why, oh why, do we have to move so fast?
At the heart of this trend is the music industry. Previously, a select few sensational groups became seemingly immortalized in their fame. The Beatles, for example, as well as Madonna and AC/DC have songs so common that everyone knows their words whether fans or not.
With our state of keeping current, I’m left wondering if our obsession with trends will ever leave behind immortalized stars, especially in the form of bands. I could be wrong—it’s too early to tell. Taylor Swift and Beyoncé are definitely in the running as individuals.
I enjoy listening to pop sensations as much as the next twenty-whatever, but there’s something extremely comforting about the alternative and electronic music scenes and their separation from quick sensation turnovers. It’s a good explanation for why I’ve fallen in love with Purity Ring, the electronic music duo headed by Corrin Roddick and Megan James.
Despite their genre and chilling lyrics, Purity Ring produces an incredibly relaxing aura with their music. The duo released two albums in the last five years, Shrines (2012) and Another Eternity (2014.) Most of Shrines was created between the two long distance—an amazing collaboration for former members of the Canadian band Born Gold. The jury’s out on why they chose to work trans-continentally.
While Roddick reigned temporarily from Montreal and James from Halifax, what’s even more impressive about these two longtime friends is a strategic handling of their first and second album release. After Shrines, the pair refused to rush through production of a second album and instead spent their time re-designing and perfecting their sound.
Their strategy is a clear indication of two band members who know each other, inside out—as they should. Both grew up in Alberta, Canada together and reportedly felt unearthed after discovering their collective sound.
“Ungirthed” from Shrines remains their only track released. The song’s popularity set the precedent for the rest of their career, so far.
If you’re an electronic junkie like me, there’s a good chance you listen for a song’s feel before wrangling out the lyrics. Purity Ring’s beautifully composed, almost feminine sound caught my attention, but I stayed for the lyrics. In a place where a lot of electronic music is strictly rhythm and no soul, the duo has found their distinguishing quality.
The creeper’s blood is seeping/From this undead wooden headboard/Varnish my forehead red in evening/Drift down over my jowls/Bid them writhe and sprout their heavy feathers/Lift my dropping heart
The pair has remained a festival favorite these last few years, headlining at shows like Mountain Oasis and Pitchfork festival before completing their world tour from April- June 2015. What’s just as soulful as their music is their light design, driven by Roddick on a custom built, tree-simulating keyboard. The instrument is enough to make an audience member feel like they’re walking through a creepy, enchanted forest.
Shrines qualified for a Polaris Music Prize in June 2013, but Another Eternity holds their two most popular hits, Begin Again and Push Pull. Both use repetitive elements similar to pop songs that appeals to both pop and electronic lovers alike.
James creates her and Roddick’s outfit herself, both designing and sewing. These are two intensely creative entrepreneurs that embody the Cancer spirit, and they’ve established a fan base that definitely won’t let go.
You push and you pull and you tell yourself no/It's like when you lie down, the veins grow in slow//You push and you pull but you'd never know/I crept up in you and I wouldn't let go
-Push/Pull, Another Eternity