From the opening glitchy synth tones of “Crawlersout” to the spoken word oddity of “Shuck,” Purity Ring’s debut is something that no one has really been able to accuately categorize. “Lofticries” has garnered the attention of chillwave enthusiasts since it came out a few months ago as the first single, but this is not your average chillwave album. It has way more glitch to it, the beats are much more related to hip hop than anything that, say, Washed Out or Neon Indian has come up with. And listening carefully to the lyrics will provoke some “what the hell is she singing about?” reactions. (PROTIP: the numerous mentions of dripping liquids, lips, and thighs probably means this albums is primarily about doing it.)
Not to say that this is at all bad. It certainly makes for a unique listen. As of right now, Purity Ring can rest on their laurels as having crafted a record that doesn’t sound quite like anything else out for listening. The vocals are treated as not just a vehicle for the lyrics, but also a musical layer to be sampled, looped, warped and generally worked with like any other element of the song. Synths come and go, swell and fade, warp and arpeggiate. And the drums beat and thump steadily, giving each song a hip hop attitude that is either used to unify the rest of the parts, or providing a bit of contrast.
One of the great things about “Shrines” is that the second half of the record is stronger than the first, leading to something you won’t put on and get bored halfway through, switching to something else. You’ll find yourself looking forward to track six (or flipping over to side B, if that’s how you roll). An album that has a very good blend of oddness and catchiness, making it good for listening by yourself, or recommending something different to a friend. I’d give “Shrines” a deserved four Halls out of five Oates.