On the surface, Purity Ring is a sleek pop act with an ear for the weird. Corin Roddick’s off-kilter instrumentals—warm washes of synths, chopped and pitch-shifted vocal samples, and skittish, hyperactive beats—envelope Megan James’ wistful coo to create a set of remarkable, accessible tunes. Tracks like the jittery, fast-paced “Ungirthed” and the lush, swelling “Crawlersout” beg for Shrines to be played over and over. But repeat listens reveal an unsettling thread in Shrines. Purity Ring regularly blends elements of violence and sensuality as James sings about ravaged body parts and dismemberment, dovetailing the lyrics to Roddick’s otherworldly sounds to make Shrines a haunting listen. Songs like “Saltkin” and “Fineshrine” focus on characters obsessed with morphing their corporeal figures into surreal, freakish shapes. By broadcasting these intimate and romantic—but unseemly sounding—desires Purity Ring manages to separate itself from the many gore-filled flicks and bands that merely regurgitate violent themes, and the band’s ability to put repulsive images and to a danceable beat makes Shrines a knockout.
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