Review: Purity Ring

Madame Jojo’s, 12th June.

I’m not really sure what ‘future-pop’ is supposed to be but judging by the sold-out Purity Ring show at Madame JoJo’s, whatever it is, I rather like it.

Purity Ring are comprised of the Canadian duo Corin Roddick (producer) and Megan James (vocalist) and together they are an otherworldly spectacle live – successfully negating the sometimes static and soulless live experience of other electronic-orientated acts. Signed to 4AD (home to Ariel Pink, Grimes, Bon Iver, The National et al.) they demonstrated why they deserve to be amongst such good company as they showcased material from their new album Shrines- out next month.

The stage set up involved Roddick using what could be best described as florescent ice-gem shaped lanterns (handmade he told me afterwards), which he hits like a electronic drum kit to trigger samples and beats whilst James intermittently bashes a raised bass drum, which dramatically illuminates with every crash. If they had some dry ice and strobe lighting it would have been the perfect formula for an audio/visual shock and awe. But it wasn’t all about the visual trickery. Their sound is a collection of different feelings, places, genres and influences. There is epic-Fever Ray-dramatics, slow-motion hallucinogenic pop, ghostly voice samples, elastic synths, walls of cold atmospherics mixed with slick RnB grooves – basically enough musical reference points to keep the worlds population of music critics busy for the next 6 months. James at first seemed slightly overwhelmed and nervous on stage, covered up in a large coat. She soon opens up to revel a beautiful black dress as she floats around the stage in a trance-like stupor, often with a lamp swinging round her neck. She thanks the crowd profusely after each song, clapping with sheer excitement and admitted that they have been looking forward to this show the most on their European tour – much to the crowds delight.

The crowd were completely enamoured, with each song getting wild rounds of applause and cheers (deservedly so), particularly new track Belispeak. Roddick’s soundscapes, full of heavy sub bass, swishes, blips and bops with a metallic sheen and James’ innocent and crisp vocal create an eerie dissonance together. You can hear the isolation and sadness but there are also elements of fantasy and disconnection which give the evening a cathartic twist. Or maybe it was because it was a Wednesday night and because I hate my job I decided to fuck work the next day to get drunk instead? I don’t know.  When it came to the obligatory encore, James sheepishly came back on stage to apologize as they didn’t have any more songs to play. Despite the crowd’s disappointment, it was perhaps a good way to leave things. Purity Ring are clearly not a band who rest on their laurels.  Like many of the best artists, they remind you that there is always something more that can be done; there are always new boundaries to be pushed and moments of brilliance to be achieved. Purity Ring’s eye for doing things differently and putting on a mesmerizing live show should see them move in the right direction towards this.

Words: Woody Whyte