Album Review: Purity Ring - Another Eternity

Album Reviews
Gerrit Feenstra

Two and a half years have passed since Purity Ring dropped their debut LP Shrines on 4AD. Every time I hear that, I'm totally baffled. How has it only been two and a half years? It feels like Purity Ring have been a household indie pop name for an eternity. After a handful of one off singles over the previous year, Purity Ring dropped the biggest debut LP of the year and, within a year, the record seemed omnipresent. In Seattle alone, we saw Purity Ring go from a barely visible Sasquatch obscurity to a spooky lantern-lit Neumos set to a magical forest setup at Neptune to a full-fledged Capitol Hill Block Party headliner, all sold out, all in 14 months. Shrines was a masterpiece set the standard for the darker, hip-hop nodding indie pop that has become ubiquitous on the scene over the last two years. So when you start your career with a record that changes everything, how do you take a step back and make record #2 with any semblance of clarity? That's the question we've wanted answered by Corin Roddick and Megan James for a while now. Announced early this year and now in our hands, Purity Ring's return beckons in exactly what it advertises: Another Eternity. Where Shrines was a rocket to the top, Another Eternity is a confident pop record self-aware of its own magnificence. Get ready to hear this record a lot this year.

We got two tracks from Purity Ring between Shrines and Another Eternity, and both of them help connect the dots between the two albums more than either record in isolation. Almost a year after the band first released their single "Belispeak", the track got a tune up in the form of "Belispeak II", a Danny Brown featuring rehash of the song painting it in a much more pop-centric context than its predecessor. The Danny Brown collaboration was fruitful, so much so that Purity Ring showed up on his record Old in 2013. Around the same time, Purity Ring dropped a cover of one of their favorite acts, Soulja Boy, in anticipation of a summer tour. After that, nothing for a year and a half, then the endless, massive wonder of "Push Pull" and the explosive soon-to-be live anthem "Begin Again". No more sparse, reverb-heavy vocal loops and swirls. All the tender reserve of "Ungirthed" and the wandering confusion of "Grandloves" are gone. In their place, all emotions have been amplified, not for maximum effect, but maximum volume. With Another Eternity, we have a streamlined Purity Ring experience that breathes and moves like a ferocious animal well-prepared for a fight. Just to clarify, all of this is great. On the backside of a dizzyingly successful first couple years of making music and touring, the band has no place returning to the studio attempting to recreate Shrines and pray for the same results. Rather, Another Eternity is a Purity Ring record meant to be owned and played by Purity Ring 2015, and it is one hell of a vehicle for that experience.

Corrin Roddick has perfected his production style on Another Eternity. Somewhere between the druggy pulsating of "Cartographist" and the club-ready marvel of "Obedear", you got a sense on Shrines that if things don't work out with Purity Ring, Roddick could take any of the scene's most eclectic producers to the bank on both pop and hip-hop tracks. But on Another Eternity, we see Roddick flexing a dialed in technique, especially on the record's darker second half. "Begin Again" will unquestionably be one of the year's best pop tracks. The track builds so naturally, balancing perfectly against Megan's massive vocal hook, and the song's peak is unparalleled among the band's discography. Following it are two hits of hip-hop heavy Roddick magic, with the trap-pop leaning "Dust Hymn" and the minimal break beat excellence of "Flood on the Floor". It's very fun to see which pieces of ongoing hip-hop trends that Roddick factors into the Purity Ring sound on Another Eternity, and it just shows that it won't be long before you see him buried in production credits as much as Cashmere Cat, Lunice, and the like.

On the vocal side, Megan James keeps it as impactful as ever, this time with the haze completely cleared from vision. James's vocals on Shrines felt infinite, ethereal as can be, floating in and out of Roddick's beats like a fairy. On Another Eternity, things could not be further in the other direction. Every single track on this record puts James front and center, still as powerful and as captivating as on the previous record with a quarter of the hesitation. Lyrically, Another Eternity is conscious of the second time around for Purity Ring. Repetition is a major theme throughout the record, from the repeated mistakes of "Repetition" to the again, again, again of "Stranger Than Earth", to the clarity and freshness of "Begin Again". Throughout Another Eternity, Purity Ring break from the hiding places and sanctuaries of Shrines and move outwards. Much more extroverted than their first effort, here Purity Ring are conscious that perfect practice makes a perfect result. Over the last two and a half years, Purity Ring have been perfecting the sound that they put on the map with Shrines while everyone else is working to emulate it. Even now after the sound of the first record has become so ubiquitous, it's no surprise to see Purity Ring doing it better themselves than any of their copycat competition. Another Eternity hurdles above a nearly impossible amount of follow-up pressure and keeps Roddick and James on the top of the indie pop scene for another go round.

Another Eternity is out this week through 4AD! Grab it at your local record store on CD or colored vinyl. Purity Ring will tour this spring in support of the new record, and it's bound to be as rapturous as ever. They hit the Showbox SoDo on June 16! BRAIDS and Born Gold will open. Grab tickets here.

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