Archive for November, 2012

Purity Ring – Shrines (Album Review)

Wednesday, November 7th, 2012

So, here is my first stab at an album review. I happen to be doing this on an album that is very near and dear to my heart, so it may be a little biased but let’s see how it goes.

1. Crawlersout – This track starts off with a very friendly synth lead and shimmering synth in the back. Your head starts to bob when you hear some heavy bass start up that swells like a wave in your ears. You see this track start a pattern of two words that are in the song that are combined into one for to make the title. I’m such a big fan of all the drums in this and the distant vocals that add so many layers to the track.

2. Fineshrine – The “title” track is also one of the singles from this release. Again, we hear the heavy, modulated bass in the back with a drum machine that makes the track feel much faster than it actually is. This is a very catchy song and quite easy to sing along to. The lyrics are a little strange but you get the feeling that this is a very romantic song about being very close to someone and putting them in your heart.

3. Ungirthed – Quite an elementary start, like literally, it sounds like a song for little kids. Possibly that is why it is so much fun! It’s very bouncy with a slow, heavy beat and the jumps of the vocals. This was the first song released by Purity Ring and it definitely shows a simplicity that the other songs do not have. You still have several sounds/voices in the back but they are mostly complimenting the vocals in the form harmonies. These add up to make an interesting song that you can bounce along to.

4. Amenamy – Starting off with “breathing giant” (yes, I’m calling it that) synth, it jumps right into a beat that would could easily accompany a rap track. The chimes and high-register synth lead make this one of the most beautiful tracks on the album. The chorus sounds a little Oriental with the all the chimes and give it a very exotic feel. It also features some Olde English verbiage like “thy” and “hath,” which none of their other songs feature. I read somewhere that the theme of this song is about leaving behind a religious worldview and that is a possibility.

5. Grandloves – Here is another slow one with some deep, modulated bass and you can tell that Megan James is holding back her voice to make this one a little more delicate than the other tracks. This is also the only track on the album that features another artist and he happens to be rapping, which is a little unexpected from an indie band like Purity Ring. You figure that it does make sense though, when you hear their beats, you know it has a heavy hip-hop influence. I imagine this is another track about love and while the lyrics are a little easier to decipher, this is not my favorite song, yet I do like the space-like atmosphere that the ending creates :).

6. Cartographist – So I’ve been throwing around “deep” and “heavy” to describe the bass, but this track features truly deep and heavy bass. I find this song so intriguing as I’ve listened to it the least amount of times but take out the background and it sounds almost like a hymn. There are plenty of harmonies in this track, but in the last minute of the song, it explodes into voices coming from everywhere and fading out into an organ-like synth. This one is definitely worth a couple listens.

7. Belispeak – Another single from Shrines, this is MY track. It has the most plays by far and is a ton of fun to listen and sing along to.  The bass and low synth are really dynamic throughout the whole song and build up to the chorus where the sound explodes with higher synth and harmonies of all kinds. The breakdown at about two minutes in isn’t too bad either and somehow all of these things combine to make an incredibly, infectious song that I can listen to over and over again! Oh, and I love the line, “my little legs are getting weak” and I say this more than I would like to admit.

8. Saltkin – Whenever I hear this song, I feel like they should have called it Occult. Regardless, this has a more trance feel to it with the high horns in the background. It builds up from the beginning and when the bass comes in, it almost sneaks up on you as it comes in the middle of a verse. The lyrics to this one are very primal and beastly and are really interesting to follow along with.

9. Obedear – Okay, sometimes you have those songs that just scream beauty to you and for me Obedear does just that. It is a full soundscape and is best listened to on some audiophile headphones or with some reference speakers. When the beat pulls out and the vocals are all that’s left, it’s almost like I am hanging in suspense, but then the bass drops for the chorus and your heart sinks. Such an awesome experience to listen to.

10. Lofticries – By this track you know the album is starting to come to a close, but not without a bang and proving they will “Bring the Thunder.” The “lazy” horns open it up to bring in some high synth that also sounds as if it is inspired by the Orient. To balance that influence out, they have congo drums in the background to confuse the hell out of you in determining what you are actually listening to! The dreamy feel of this song sticks much longer than the song, which is probably why they placed it at the end, I find myself to very contemplative after listening to this song. Weird, right?

11. Shuck – So all good things must end, and Purity Ring decided to ended it with Shuck. This also isn’t one of my favorite songs, but I love how much it sounds like Angelo Badalamenti. It is a very slow, airy end to a somewhat heavy, chaotic album and I feel it closes it out well.

Okay, now that I have hit each track, let’s get the Reader’s Digest version:

It’s good

No, I’m not going to leave you with that! The whole album is something special and weird lyrics aside, it is an aural masterpiece that can be listened to regardless of however you are feeling at the time. I absolutely love how the lyrics do provide room for interpretation and anyone who cares to read them can take what they want from them without really knowing. This is half the fun of listening to this album and I think everyone should do this.

So, you know that I like it, but how are we going to tackle the grading system?

I will rate everything on a 5-star scale only with a little twist. Every album will have a rating, but may also have my “buy it” symbol, which is (obviously) going to be my logo:

So here it goes…..

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars