That’s a lyric from Fineshrine on Purity Ring’s debut album ‘Shrines’, an album fixated with the body where carnal symbolism is laden with sexual connotations. That’s something that continues on this, the duo’s second album. On seacastle, singer Megan James intones almost threateningly “I could taste your vulnerable parts”, whilst repetition is a disturbing ode to intercourse as she beckons “climb up in my rattling spine and I’ll contract, tell me I’m the only one and I’ll move back”. At times, the lyrics have an air of forced poetry (you can read the lyrics on their website), but for the most part ‘another eternity’ is an album of bodily songs that strike the soul.
Juxtaposed with these lyrics is James’ girlish vocal. As with Lauren Mayberry (vocalist for the duo’s main rivals Chvrches), this is a voice of vulnerability and purity (ha), of a girl who sounds like she needs protecting – until you clock the lyrics at least. Couple with Corin Roddick’s dark and ghostly electronic production and it’s an intoxicating mix.
This, of course, we knew from their debut – so what’s new? ‘another eternity’ is a bigger step towards the pop end of the spectrum, resulting in an album that’s melodically stronger and more consistent. For all the crystal clear, percussive production that often sounds like it exists in a vacuum with its grand sense of sonic space, it’s the choruses and earworms that ensure the album will begin again…and again. Tracks like push pull and begin again are ripe for the charts – something that couldn’t always be said for the (then) futuristic sound of their debut.
Much of that pop influence actually comes from hip-hop: the stuttering, processed beats; the whirring synths; the prevalence of vocoder. That influence is most evident on the last handful of tracks. The handclap beat of flood on the floor, for instance, is begging for a rap verse; whilst the production of stillness in woe wouldn’t sound out of place on tracks by the likes of Drake or The Weeknd. That such typically aggressive and masculine sounding music is given a feminine twist with this delicate vocal is an unexpected, and sexually charged, twist.
If there’s one criticism to aim at Purity Ring, it’s that, whilst this album is bolder than the last, their sound hasn’t changed considerably – either between albums or between each track. Yet when it’s so unique there’s no need to. The duo have created their own world that plays with danger, innocence and sexuality. In 2012 it was the sound of the future and in 2015 it remains remarkably fresh.
* begin again
Listen: ‘another eternity’ is available now.