On Purity Ring’s 2012 debut Shrines, the Edmonton duo introduced a world of weird, dark synths, warbled and manipulated voices, and sugary sweet vocals singing of flesh and guts in a manner that would make you squirm in your seat. That record’s closest relative was the Knife’s Silent Shout, taking that album’s dark forest and finding a lighter patch where the sun peaks through the tree branches.
On their sophomore release, Another Eternity, the yin and yang is reversed. Rather than a dark album with bright corners, this record finds the duo embracing the glow underneath the mysterious landscape with occasional lapses into dark paranoia. Those dark moments though are larger than life. On “Begin Again,” the synth ane trap beats are monsters, sounding like a cathedral is collapsing around your ears. “Flood on the Floor” likewise takes a pop-hip-hop beat and grooves into an explosive dark pop chorus, akin to last year’s Grimes’ pop flirtation, “Go.” Corin Roddick’s landscapes remain in a similar world as before, but it’s one where the frontiers have expanded. The songs on Another Eternity reach epic sizes which at times works for them. The stuttering and drum rolls on “Heartsigh” mixed with the ecstatic fireworks of the synths and pianos give the thundering power ballad that Chrvches never delivered, with lyrics that are more direct than anything Megan James has previously uttered. “I’ll whisk away your heartsigh, and bury it mine,” she sings. It’s not as creative as the lyrics on “Fineshrine” about wanting to get closer by literally opening up each others bodies and meshing your organs together, but it shows a humanness that’s cute.
The sweeter side of Purity Ring though can sometimes taste of saccharine, and where the hugeness can become smothering. First single “Push Pull” lulls back and forth in a manner that never really takes off into anything memorable. “Sea Castle” takes what sounds like what could have been an early aughts Backstreet Boys sex ballad and finds James singing an ill-conceived bluesy chorus vocal over it. You can practically see a chair dance being orchestrated to it.
Other points find advantages to the expansion. “Bodyache” might be the band’s largest most, pop-inflected tune, but Megan James is wide awake with heartbreak, with fluttering piano arpeggios that sound like a lost memory from a Danny Elfman score. On “Dust Hymn,” Roddick takes the band’s touch-and-go interest in hip-hop and develops a sick scatter beat on its verses for one of the band’s slickest tracks.
Throughout Another Eternity, the band’s penchant for warped vocals, and Depeche Mode worship is faded, which is a bummer to not see as pronounced, but it’s a respectable, if not remarkable follow up that pops it up without sacrificing any of the group’s weirdness. Nothing is quite as entrancing as “Obedear” or “Ungirthed,” but this record will surely win over more fans that want something a bit leftfield to listen to on the way to the clerb.