Back in 2012, the prospect of ‘future-pop’ sounded enticing. However, three years on, the heralds of the genre have made a ‘present-pop’ record. So what happened? In Purity Ring’s short lifetime they have become a namedrop for someone who is arguably more successful – Grimes. Both hailing from the same Canadian-electro-pop community, they are both the biggest names in what was the baby-genre of ‘future-pop‘. Since their fantastic debut, ‘Shrines’, Purity Ring have done a great deal of distancing themselves from themselves, taking a year out to figure out what they wanted to do. Turns out one of the songs on ‘Another Eternity’ sums it up – begin again.
Purity Ring had established them as future pop, so they broke it down and rebuilt themselves in a different mold. This time they have come back as a pop group, but this doesn’t feel like an album that is going to hit the Top 40, in that way it skitters on the edge of pop and underground and that’s where a lot of the trouble lies.
The lyrics tend to concern themselves with space and the earth, no longer the anatomical and often unnerving lyrics of ‘Shrines’. Whereas on the debut Megan James’ delicate vocals contrasted the unsettling lyrics, on ‘Another Eternity’, it lends itself to a more comfortable listen overall and makes the album a natural and easy experience. Unfortunately, this just makes Purity Ring a pop band. The only two things that made Purity Ring a different experience from say, a Taylor Swift record, is the disconcerting lyrics and the ‘witch-house’ electronics, both of which are missing here. This, of course, makes sense because Purity Ring said they wanted to make an album Taylor Swift would listen to.
The instrumentation is tight and polished, using skittering percussion and the odd harp, which is one of the only callbacks to their roots. I can’t fault the musical backdrop, it serves its purpose but doesn’t go completely wild and throw you. Despite the apparently alarming hint that they would be embracing EDM, there is little to be found here. Tracks ‘Stranger Than Earth’ and ‘Dust Hymn’ resemble something that David Guetta or Calvin Harris might throw on the arse-end of an album. They aren’t horrific songs, and the lyrics are mostly passable ‘little voices left to rot and plot’, which sounds menacing but comes off as a little bit creepy when sung in an angelic voice. Still, there are a few shrugs of lyrics, such as ‘pity seek what we might lose / but in a week might our weakness elude’, which is a bit of a headscratcher.
At best, this album sounds like a pristine, festival-ready teaser for what Purity Ring have in store live (knowing that they do tend to put on a show). At times it sounds closer to CHVRCHES embracing EDM and more traditional pop than their traditional companion Grimes. Purity Ring don’t apologise for trying to make a pop album, they show that it comes as naturally to them as an experimental goth-electronic album. If anything, Another Eternity is a chance to flex their muscles and escape from the genre they created. It’s an album that is dead sure that it wants to be a pop album, but at the same time it still wants to hold onto that little bit of experimental-ness. If Purity Ring fully committed themselves to getting a number 1 hit, they could probably do it.