I had a chance to see Purity Ring — a duo from Alberta — about 6 months ago, but I didn’t, partially out of laziness, partially because I only had one of their songs at the time.  Listening to their new album, Shrines, I see that I made the wrong choice.

Shrines works as a battle between the small and the large. There are waves of visceral bass that contrast with skittering, clicking, cluttering rat-a-tat drums.  And there is the fragile, childish voice of lead singer Megan James, which is sometimes lost and unintelligible, pitted against waves of sampled and looped female vocals, which are forceful and wordless.  Working through the middle of these two contests are an assortment of synthesizer sounds – a simple descending progression on “Obedear” (reminiscent of Crystal Castles), a circular pattern on “Saltkin,” a darting, hammering riff on “Belispeak.” The album is short, powerful, and effective; only one song lags.  Neither small nor large really wins, but the listener certainly does.

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