Purity Ring seemingly came out of nowhere in 2012 with their debut album Shrines. The duo of Megan James and Corrin Roddick burst out of Edmonton Alberta, of all places, and onto the worldwide music scene with their brand of ethereal “future pop”. The band went on to sell a ton of albums and toured all over the globe to rapt audiences. Their music, a blend of electronic, pop and hip hop, couldn’t have come out at a more perfect time. It was forward thinking but full of hooks that appealed to fans of all those genres. Purity Ring went on to release their second album, Another Eternity, in 2015 as well as writing and producing for such huge pop stars as Katy Perry before settling down in Los Angeles to work on some more of their own music. Their newest offering WOMB, dropping April 3rd via 4AD/Crystal Math, is quintessential Purity Ring. An album that is so impeccably made with care by the duo, who write, perform, produce and mix all of their material. It’s a collection of songs about finding the things that make you feel safe. Whether that is through the family you are born into, the family you create from friends or finding those places that act as sanctuary from all the problems that are happening in the world. It’s sharp, beautiful and comforting while still remaining interesting and features some of their strongest work since Shrines was released eight years ago.
The album kicks off with “rubyinsides” and James familiar and wonderfully innocent vocal style. All whirry synths, sharp handclaps and just the perfect amount of sub bass hits, their sound has become familiar enough to immediately recognize and through that, it does feel perfectly comforting from the first note on. James’s writing feels intensely personal here. When she sings ”If I Could, I Would Let You See Through Me”. It’s all filtered through a childlike innocence but there is enough gravitas behind it to let you know that whatever this situation is, she truly means it. “pink lightning” starts out with some pitch shifted and slowed down vocals and when the fog clears the vocal melody that James is singing is one of the smoothest and ear worm-y she has brought to the table yet. There is so much tension in their songs, through all the beautifully placed synths and electronics as well as melodically through the vocals. It all resolve so wonderfully in every situation that every track has this huge emotional payoff. The back to back hits of “peacefall” and “I like the devil” are possibly a couple of the most straight up pop songs the band has ever crafted.“peacefalls” Edward Scissorhands type intro to James’s almost nursery rhyme vocal melody before the initial beat drops and through to the repetitive chorus refrain, will grab you and won’t let you go. The album closes with “stardew” a subdued and beautiful treatise about the power of coming home, wherever that may be, and the peace that comes along with it.
With WOMB, Purity Ring are at the top of their game. The duo works harmoniously in sync together. From Roddick’s interestingly crafted electronic backdrop to James’s wonderful words and melodic skill. With the entire world in flux right now and people actively trying to find balance, comfort and the space they can exist in to make these things happen, WOMB just may be the perfect soundtrack to achieving this goal or at the very least something that can help find the patience you need to keep looking.
review by Adam Fink