Like Braids (a Calgary band that relocated to la belle province) and Vancouver-bred Grimes (who only recently left the city for Los Angeles), the Edmonton-reared members of Purity Ring have adopted Montreal as a home base by choice, not by birth. And like their sometime citymates, the duo, who also have ties to Halifax, deal in a kind of mesmerizing, ambient music that sounds like the stuff of Diazepam-fogged dreams.
Their songs are lush, refracted expanses of shimmery synths and gauzy vocals, composed by shattering conventional pop structures into slivers and piecing those slivers back together. Similar to Grimes’ Polaris-shortlisted Visions, you can hear traces of Purity Ring’s nostalgic ’90s influences in their tunes—echoes of Mariah Carey’s spun-sugar vocal acrobatics ripple through “Fineshrine,” while “Grandloves” reconstructs the syncopated finger-snap beats of pre-millennial R&B slow-jams.
The dynamics on Shrines are a bit too muted and sedate, and all this dreamy prettiness can lull you into a state of half-baked submission. But every so often, Megan James coos something so grotesque, like, “Cut open my sternum and pull” (from “Fineshrine”), or “Drill holes in my eyelids” (from “Belispeak”), that you’re jolted back to consciousness. Shrines is not quite worthy of worship—it’d benefit from a bit more drama—but it’s certainly a glorious opiate for the masses.
Playlist picks: “Saltkin,” “Fineshrine”