When Purity Ring‘s sophomore album Another Eternity dropped in 2015, I was unsure of what to think. It was compositionally and sonically different than their debut, Shrines, and I wasn’t sure if I liked it or not. I put it on the backburner and decided to revisit it later to see if my opinion would change.
Fast forward to early spring 2016, and I finally felt like giving the album another chance. The weather was perfect for this genre, so I gave it another spin, and I’m very glad I did, as it’s surpassed Shrines to become my favorite Purity Ring album, not to mention one of my favorite albums in general.
For the uninitiated, Purity Ring’s music consists of Corin Roddick’s instrumentals, thickly interwoven layers of synths and percussion often as beautiful as they are alien, and the vocals and lyrics of Megan James. On Shrines, Jame’s presence sometimes felt buried in the mix to a degree, but that’s not at all the case on Another Eternity. Her angelic vocals and clever lyrics are front and center, while the general production has improved quite a bit and all the instrumentals are clearly discernible and never fight for space in the mix with the vocals.
Album opener “Heartsigh” is a perfect stage-setter for what to expect out of this album, and the accompanying music video is fantastic as well.
I consider James to be one of the most interesting lyricists in music, and while “Heartsigh” isn’t the best track on the album in regards to her lyrics, it’s a good example of both her witty and clever turns of phrase and euphemisms, as well as her penchant for body-related imagery and themes.
While said body-related themes were present on Shrines, Another Eternity is absolutely full of them, and the way she uses them in her lyrics is fascinating. A fair amount of the songs on Another Eternity have a central thematic element represented by bodily imagery, and even the ones that don’t, like second single “Begin Again,” still make use of it in some way.
“Stranger Than Earth,” situated roughly halfway through the album, is a perfect representation of the eclectic variety on display here. What starts as a sparse hip-hop style beat with a circular, repetitive lyrical pattern evolves into a wall of huge, towering bass synth, before morphing at the two minute mark into a clap-along, arena rock-worthy chorus that begs to be sung along to, and then changes again to incorporate both of these styles into one. It’s an impressive display of songwriting prowess that manages to be both instantly catchy yet deep enough for many repeated listens.
On the tail end of the album, you have the tracks “Sea Castle” and “Stillness,” which serve as showcases of all the different elements that make this album so amazing. At once both delightfully delicate and the sonically massive, these two tracks are a kind of summary of the band up to this point, and serve as fantastic ways to end the album.
I’ve been anxious for more music from the band since falling in love with this album roughly two years ago, and while they released a single last year, it was a standalone song and not one from the album they’re currently working on. It’s hard to say exactly where the band will go after an album like this, but Another Eternity is a near perfect evolution of everything that made Shrines so compelling, and it’s safe to say that the band have managed to avoid the sophomore slump. Hopefully whatever they choose to follow it up with comes soon.