One of the problems with electronic music is that for someone who isn’t well versed in the genre, it can be kind of hard to get into, particularly with genres like dubstep and its subsequent offshoots. There are, however, ways of taking the genre to the unaware and presenting it in a form that appears more appealing. Last year previously instrumental producers, such as SBTRKT and James Blake, saw transitions into more soul-oriented artists with the help of vocal additions to their music. The backing tracks still remained the kind of music you’d find in a dubstep record. This is what the Montreal duo Purity Ring do with their first record, Shrines. Instead of using a more soulful approach to their music however, they go with an ever more accessible approach and tackle the genre with synthpop sensibilities.
The record maintains this sound throughout its entirety. The first track “Crawlersout” is the first taste of what Shrines contains. Listeners can easily become enthralled by the pop vocals that are placed over the darker beats. The hooks from Megan James are effective and producer/instrumentalist Corin Roddick combines different synthesizer sounds with the otherwise minimalist dubstep beats.
Purity Ring overall stick to one particular sound and execute it in two ways throughout the record. One being more catchy and upbeat tracks, with the other side of their music being more somber and haunting. Luckily the duo knows how to perform both of these forms of music pretty well.
The pop-driven tunes are simple earworms. Tracks like “Fineshrine,” “Ungirthed” and “Amenamy” are all very strong candidates for singles. Their infectious nature and brighter disposition make them easily accessible for varied types of listeners. These tracks in particular feature very prominent hooks such as “Such shattering find for this candor to die/Plug up your wormholes and give them, to feeders and spirits be freer” from “Amenamy” and “Get a little closer, let fold/Cut open my sternum and pull” from “Fineshrine.” It’s grim stuff, but in the context of the actual music, it’s almost joyful.
Just as the duo has the talent to write sunnier tracks, they are also very eloquent at performing a bleaker side of music. Some of the record’s best tracks fall under this category. Appearing near the album’s halfway point, “Grandloves” is a true record centerpiece. The chopped up vocal samples and watery sounds evoke a witch house feel throughout the track. The vocal department offers some more variety as male vocals accompany those of James.
The record is overall an easy and appealing listen. Purity Ring are able to turn a genre that regularly turns people off into something that is simple and catchy. Their songwriting talent is clearly a huge asset, as is their vocal delivery and electronic production. Shrines may not be the most visionary record of 2012, but it sure is one of the most fun.