There’s a sub-genre of indie pop which involves dark electronic production balanced by delicate feminine vocals. Bands like Chvrches, MS MR, PVRIS, and The Naked and Famous have all released albums in the past two years which have used this aesthetic, and absolutely none of them hold a candle to electro-pop offerings of Purity Ring. Their latest release, Another Eternity, is a stunning example of what can be done when trap music production meets twee indie lyricism. This is pop music as art, using mainstream sounds as the foundation for something intricate and refined.
The first half of Another Eternity is full of playful little moments. Album opener “Heartsigh” showcases Purity Ring’s more lyrical side, with a piano-based melody backed by synthetic strings and a stuttering drumbeat. Singer Megan James employs a unique rhyming scheme that feels almost like a beat poem—“Whisper, whimper on; I / Won’t forget to close your eyes for you.” The tinkly “Bodyache” contrasts a bright sound with pain-filled lyrics, while “Repetition” showcases the quasi-minimalist restraint that made Purity Ring’s debut so well-loved. This is the type of music which uses auto-tune for good rather than evil, transforming James’ voice to become an instrument in and of itself.
Another Eternity uses a lot of motifs which show up in mainstream pop music, and as a result the songs sound like a Bizarro-world version of Billboard’s Top 100. “Dust Hymn”, for example, has a buildup which sounds very similar to the Iggy Azalea/Rita Ora song “Black Widow”. Another example is in “Stranger Than Earth”, which contains a mid-song EDM breakdown complete with drum machine and club-ready synth riff. Overtop, though, are wordy lyrics like “Pity seek what we might lose / But in a week might our weakness elude”—not your standard dance anthem, to say the least.
The collusion of mainstream hip-hop and ethereal indie comes to a head in “Flood on the Floor”, by far the album’s best track. Roddick’s production wouldn’t be out of place in a Lil’ Wayne song; you could swap out James’ vocals for a down and dirty rap verse and things would still fit. There’s no reason why you’d want to, though; James pushes the song through epic soaring highs and dark emotional lows. Another Eternity‘s strengths come from these moments, where mainstream sounds are used in a new and different way. Another Eternity isn’t necessarily deep; it’s well-written, but still has a fluffiness to it that can’t be denied. Nonetheless, it’s well-crafted pop music with wonderful lyrics and excellent production, and worth at least one listen, if not more.