Polaris Overview Part 1: Purity Ring – Shrines

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PURITY RING – SHRINES

Straight outta’ Edmonton, AB, neo-synth pop darlings Purity Ring had a hell of a 2012.  Their album was the darling of a few publications (including influential tastemakers Pitchfork and the notoriously mercurial NME) and managed to hit #32 on the Billboard 200.  They got as far as they did by crafting music that was (and still is) all the rage – surging, seasick, soaring synth pop with candy-coated female vocals -but with the added edge of simply being better than the competition.  There are dark moments to offset the sheen of sweetness:  on big single “Fineshrine”, singer Megan James implores the listener to cut open her sternum and pull out her living heart; “Cartographist” skitters along with an eerie bit of madness; “Ungirthed” takes the vocal conceit of witch house and turns it into a pop song.  It was an electronic album that sounded like the culminating point of a band’s career, only it was their debut.

BOTTOM LINE

Do they stand a chance?  Sure they do.  Synth pop is huge right now, in the indie scene at any rate, and Purity Ring proved that they could do synth pop better than pretty much anyone else out there (an opinion I expect to hold right up until CHVRCHES finally drops their debut LP).  They’re from the West, and a Toronto artist won the prize last year (Feist, for her (IMO rather boring) album Metals).  They’ve achieved name-recognition outside of the country (ending up on several year-end lists around the globe) – shades of the Arcade Fire win.  They’re up against some pretty stiff competiton but I would judge that they definitely have an edge here.

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