Whilst it’s been getting progressively more difficult to describe a ‘typical’ 4AD artist in recent years, as a label it has delivered some genuinely superb albums during this time – notably including Daughter’s ‘If You Leave’, Serena-Maneesh’s ‘#2: Abyss In B Minor’ and of course Purity Ring’s 2012 debut ‘Shrines’.

I guess the first – and most obvious – thing to say about ‘Another Eternity’, Purity Ring’s sophomore album, is that it’s ‘business as usual’ – with one or two caveats.  If you enjoyed their debut, then it’s a pretty safe bet that you’re going to enjoy this one too.  Let’s break it down… 

Firstly, I really like the vocals – they’re what I would describe as ‘girly’, mainly high-pitched with no rough edges.  The two people who make up Purity Ring deliver clean melodies over heavily processed electronics.  I might get shot down by some for saying this but all too often in place of a great melody I hear a lot of grunting from female singers, as if to over-emphasise certain lyrics or parts of the song.  It’s a real turn off for which I blame Whitney Houston and Annie Lennox.  Fortunately, there’s none of that on display here, just great layers of melodies on top of all sorts of electronics.

So ‘Another Eternity’ pretty much carries on from where ‘Shrines’ left off.  ‘Heartsigh’ kicks things off, driven by a gorgeous vocal melody and supported by a nice keyboard hook and sampled drums.  Unsurprisingly there is lots of studio trickery at work here to fill out the sound.  Not a bad thing – the overall sound carries considerably more weight than you would expect from just two musicians at work.  The production is polished and the performance sounds assured.  However, maybe that’s the first of my caveats – there are literally no moments during this album where you think Purity Ring have dropped their guard or where there’s a brief moment of insecurity.  That’s possibly a good thing but it also keeps the barrier just about open, as if allowing us to peek inside without stepping across the line, but it doesn’t let us see their vulnerability.

Where Purity Ring really do stand out from the competition is in those melody lines.  While some tracks, notably ‘Repetition’ could, in the wrong hands, veer towards, ahem, repetition, it’s the vocal which rescues the song from mediocrity.  There’s also some serious bass and musicality in many of these tracks – check out ‘Stranger Than Earth’ for starters.  Now imagine a dark room with a sugary scent.  Like sweetness and darkness.  That’s exactly what ‘Stranger Than Earth’ delivers.  It’s a BIG track which propels us neatly into the single ‘Begin Again’.  ‘Sea Castle’ which arrives near to the end is actually one of my favourite tracks on the album.  It has one of those choruses which lingers in your mind and it doesn’t attempt to try too hard.

‘Another Eternity’ is another quality release from Purity Ring.  Whether it’s up there with ‘Shrines’ is possibly one for debate.  Fans of electronic music will certainly enjoy it – as will 4AD purists too.

Paul Lockett

 

 

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