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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Review: Purity Ring’s ‘pretty but hollow second album’



    After releasing its debut Shrines in 2012, Purity Ring, the Canadian duo consisting of songwriter and frontwoman Megan James and instrumentalist Corin Roddick, has given itself three years to write, produce, announce and finally release its follow-up album, Another Eternity. In the meantime, both contemporary hip-hop-influenced pop music and Purity Ring have taken a couple of steps toward each other, allowing for a potential mainstream appeal that couldn’t be reached before.

    Purity Ring has always been a package deal of sonic, visual and artistic elements. This time, on Another Eternity, the duo makes a point of skipping capital letters. On Shrines, it created abstract terms by combining words such as “belly” and “speak” into the song title “Belispeak,” or “Saltkin,” a combination of “salt” and “skin.”

    In their shows, James and Roddick are notorious sticklers, personally making ensuring that their special light show is set up and functioning to perfection. They entrance the audience with a spectacle, having lanterns light up every time percussionist Roddick hits a certain note.

    Whereas their artistic development is flourishing, their musical evolution falls into the second-album trap. James is still good with words, but the novelty that accompanied their debut is gone. The duo has come up with 10 more or less good tracks that appear thinner and hollow compared to the debut. James still addresses romantic motifs and stays consistent in her lyrical persona speaking to a lover, while simultaneously portraying the iconic figure of a little girl in a horror movie: sweet, alien and creepy.

    “You push and you pull but you’d never know I crept up in you, and I wouldn’t let go,” she sings on “Push Pull,” which is, along with the thick, piano-induced “Bodyache,” one of the better songs on Another Eternity.

    The flaws that make the sophomore weaker than the debut continue in the instrumentation. The songs are still the synth-driven electronic music with a subtle percussion that graced Shrines, though they are less abstract in their appeal. As Pitchfork’s music-guru Ian Cohen has pointed out, some songs on the album could serve as backing tracks for Miley Cyrus’ next chart topper or as Drake’s next tape.

    This is where the evolution of contemporary pop comes in: Thanks to artists such as Cyrus, bands such as Chvrches gaining mainstream recognition, and the integration of EDM in everyday life, the charts have become more inclusive. Our ears embrace new styles to an extent where generic pop becomes a fresh, appreciated break from what’s normal every now and then.

    The problem with Another Eternity is that it is too time fitting. The alien effect that made its predecessor into “future pop” is gone. We’re in the future now — at least musically. While this wouldn’t have to be a problem, per se, and it could even land the band wide recognition and mainstream appeal, Another Eternity seems to remain on the doorstep, failing to embrace its full potential. Instrumentations are too extensive and thin at times, with repetition and one too many fillers not making for much substance.

    As an overall experience, Another Eternity is no less than nice electropop. However, the band is lost in a no man’s land between critical acclaim and mainstream recognition, delivering a pretty but hollow second album.


    Follow Caren Badtke on Twitter.

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