PURITY RING - ANOTHER ETERNITY (4AD)
There's an injustice in the music industry.
"But how can this be, Reynolds? All we hear are tales of support, encouragement and the nurturing of young artists. You mean art isn't really the driving force behind those friendly faces we see at record label events? You mean that everyone isn't really treated with respect, care and love?"
Seriously, it came as a shock to me, too.
My daily dose of sunshine is currently illuminating the imbalance in expectation, depending on the genre a release inhabits. When conventionally defined bands stumble across something exciting, no one wants them to change:
"Waaahhh! Radiohead didn't release The Bends again!"
(Have you listened to The Bends recently? Some of it's quite shit. 'Black Star?' 'Bones?' 'Sulk?')
Purity Ring hit a rich vein of beauty and menace on Shrines, concealing unsettling images of body horror within a deep electro groove. Since then, Chvrches have added a pop suffix to that formula and FKA Twigs found great success with her own unsettling take on what is, at its most basic level, sad dance music.
Of course, The Knife were here before all those, and Joy Division / New Order before them. However, there was still an expectation for innovative leaps forward whenever they returned with new material. That's where the injustice lies: if your music stakes any sort of claim to modernity, you'd better keep up with the technological growth.
There's absolutely nothing wrong with Another Eternity, but it won't excite in the same way as its predecessor. It might not be fair, but we get bored easily and expect too much. The move towards the mainstream is surprisingly welcome, and Purity Ring no longer shut you out. This feels like a record made to be truly enjoyed, and it would be, were Shrines not standing in front of it, waving its arms. Even Megan James' lyrics have thawed a little, and in spite of barbed threats like "I can taste your vulnerable parts," the hooks are more overtly hummable than anything they've ever done.
Which brings us to the question of where Purity Ring go from here. There will undoubtedly be people who maintain that this record is exactly what they wanted, and I'm happy for them. But I'm certain there will be impatient souls like me who wanted a further shuffle into the darkness. I wanted them to take Fineshrines and cut open more than the sternum, overwhelming the new record with claustrophobia and glistening menace. I wanted The Haxan Cloak to listen this and think, "fuck, are these guys alright?"
Or maybe for them to release an acoustic record. Then we'd be happy forever.