Duo Purity Ring’s sophomore release was incredibly anticipated after their highly successful debut Shrines, and rightly so – Shrines was a diamond beautifully created in the heat and pressure of their own desolate world. I enjoyed that album and the way it clearly showed the personality of the band – quirky, intellectual, and highly evocative – and the way it was presented to showcase well written lyrics and expertly orchestrated synths. When their new single “Push Pull,” was released earlier in 2014, however, the band started to receive criticism and skepticism for the apparent “change” in their original sound. I usually always see this as a chance for refinement and maturation within a band’s own foundation, and with some areas in Another Eternity, that is definitely the case.
The album starts with the track “Heartsigh,” which, in and of itself, is nothing all that overwhelming, and it could even be mistaken for a sampler track or a demo. The album really starts, for me at least, at their second track, “Bodyache.” The dripping melody in the synth moves wonderfully into the vocals, and it’s clear that Megan James and Corin Roddick did intend to take this album to somewhere else entirely. James’ vocals are the clearest we’ve ever heard them, with Roddick presenting some newer, fresher beats. “Repetition” is simple and similar in tone to “Heartsigh,” while “Dust Hymn” and “Stranger to Earth” sounds darker and almost like companion tracks to “Fineshrine.” “Sea Castle” plays more with the band’s wonderfully poetic songwriting skills, with a menacing beat and synth track lurking underneath.
While listening to this album, I couldn’t help feeling that it was almost as if the entire time they were holding back something. And, I could feel that it was something so powerful too, but then they just held it inside instead – which ironically does create some tension in the tracks – and the potential was sorely missed. The winner on the album for me that definitely did not hold back was their stunner track “Begin Again.” It’s here we hear meticulous melodies and synths, along with some complex layering that brings James’ vocals to new heights. The chorus is brooding, bringing back some of the edge found in Shrines. It’s a glorious moment in the album, for sure, almost cultivating a point in the band’s timeline that marked the start of something brand new and fresh.
If Shrines was Purity Ring’s gritty, raw phase, Another Eternity is their calmer, more introspective phase. It’s softer and more gentle, with a clear emphasis on order and organization and a smaller, but strong emphasis on styling with pop instead of formulating lengthy, expansive sounds. There are some areas that sound almost a little too clean and refined, and they were more hesitant to take risks, which takes away from the natural and unapologetic tenacious reputation the band worked so hard to cultivate with Shrines. However, this album is still a solid work, albeit one that yearns to be further understood.
photo courtesy of the artist