Purity Ring “another eternity” Review

(Photo Credit: www.universityobserver.ie)

Purity Ring have quickly succumbed to their own creation, on a gripping but stagnant sophomore album.

Internet giveth, Internet taketh away.

In the digital age we’re all hurtling through, things keep moving faster and faster. Internet jokes come and go in a day. Musicians are forced to release albums early because of leaks. Seth Rogen movies are being pirated instead of hitting theaters because of online threats. And because anyone can now record and upload music, and anyone can download any music at any time, music trends shift faster and faster. Purity Ring are realizing the harsh reality of this now. Their 2012 debut, “Shrines,” heralded a new breed of pop music – one that was dripping with synth beats that were hip-hop inspired, and cavernous, poetic lyrics. Only three years later, on their sophomore album, they sound like a voice in a mass of bands doing the very same thing.

“another eternity” takes a couple songs to sort itself out. Opener “heartsigh” focuses more on the hip-hop/pop beats. Follow-up “bodyache” is more vocal-based, only for “push pull” to go back towards the beats. But once the duo spits their ego-ideas out, the album becomes more cohesive. “repetition,” the fourth track, is (perhaps not ironically) one of the most re-treading songs on the album, but it’s one of the most cohesive, too. It’s the first song on the album where singer Megan James and instrumentalist Corin Roddick sound like they’re working together, not to back each other up. And this cohesiveness is the album’s, and the band’s, best quality. Lead-off single “begin again” is probably the best track, a big song with a big chorus that has both musicians working at their best. The other highlight is “stranger than earth,” the median track, and the longest. Seven of the ten songs are in the 3:15-3:39 range, so the 4:19 runtime of “stranger than earth” feels long in comparison. It’s a medium song that deserves to be drawn out, and it’s the only time on “another eternity” where the duo actually takes the time to stretch out.

But here’s the thing. I remember turning on “Shrines” a few weeks after it came out and thinking like it was something new – an 80’s synth band that was playing drooping hip-hop beats. But today, I turned on “another eternity” and thought, “Man, this sounds like CHVRCHES.” This album sounds a lot like CHVRCHES, because they’re one of many bands who have copied this formula. And Purity Ring do nothing to expand on it. They’re a victim of their own creation – the only people who can’t be Purity Ring are Purity Ring. They needed to do something different on this album, but there’s nothing new. It’s retreads, musically and lyrically, of previously approached topics. And with the repetitious runtimes and the album’s relatively short runtime total, there ends up being nothing enticing going on. Sure – James’s vocals are strong, subversive and pure, and Roddick’s beats are an original blend, but there ends up being nothing you can’t find on “Shrines.” Or “The Bones of What You Believe,” or “Secondhand Rapture,” or albums by any number of the equally great Purity Ring imitators.

Grade: B-

By Andrew McNally

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