Mystery is a hard thing to come by in the Internet age, when musicians' Twitter updates are examined by blogs the way TMZ keeps its lenses pointed at Lohan (just a matter of time). So, electronic indie act Purity Ring's emergence in 2011 was refreshingly sneaky: Other than buzzing tracks such as "Ungirthed" popping up on YouTube and a few strategically placed MP3s, Purity Ring seems to have built a cult following on next to nothing. The expectations for its full-length, Shrines, released in 2012 by 4AD Records, were high. But this Montreal duo exceeded hopes for something beautiful and tragic. Acting as the perfect antithesis to wub-wub dubstep and Crystal Castles, Purity Ring brings a masterful balance to its ghostly, feminine electronica. Like futuristic pop chimes smeared over Clams Casino beats muddled with a higher-pitched version of Grimes, Purity Ring infectiously crafts dark, celestial dream pop with just a hint of witch house. On the production end, Corin Roddick spends months on each track, largely influenced by unlikely sources such as Soulja Boy or Justin Timberlake. The R&B and hip-hop styles he borrows then get warped underneath Megan James' heavily processed vocals. James culls her lyrics from her journals, singing them as if they were chillwave therapy sessions. She sounds like she needs it — many of Shrines' songs are tinged with violence. On "Fineshrine," James coos, "Cut open my sternum and pull my little ribs around you." Spooky? Sure, but the dangerous, mysterious aura suites her well.
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