Friday, March 9, 2012

Purity Ring Comes To Richmond, VA [A Rare Music Review]

It's not often that an opening act on the stage of The National out shines the headlining band. It's not that the primary performer isn't a great band, that score is settled by the taste of the listener, but sometimes an opening act just makes a stronger impression and more ferociously grabs your attention. Such was the case with Purity Ring on Thursday night.

The Canadian duo that is Purity Ring have yet to release an album. In fact, the pair have only made available 3 tracks for the world to consume. Accordingly, many have called them simply a blog band. Yet their creative stage performance, and truly unique sound would have you believe they'd been touring for years.

In a chat after their performance I learned two main things from the bands singer, Megan James. First, the pair may owe some of their innovative sound to their scarce presence on the scene of electronic music, the genre they most readily fit into. And secondly, Purity Ring does not do interviews.

Attention Reader: This is not an interview!

Describing the sound of purity ring is somewhat difficult. Megan's first, seemingly canned answer, is to describe their music as future pop. With decidedly poppy rhythms and an unmistakably futuristic take on electronic arrangements, future pop does fit the bill. Yet, the singer certainly perked up, and perhaps used the word love, when quoting the descriptor "nightmare pop" used by the folks at Pitchfork. At first it might not make much sense. Purity Ring's actual sound comes off as a heavily sampled, almost orchestral, mix of Megan's beautiful voice and the playful feel of Corin Roddick's sound creation, aka drum machining. Anything but nightmarish. Yet, the lyrics put together by the pair are indeed dark, and enjoyably so.

As difficult to describe as they are, Purity Ring puts together a show that is both enjoyable to watch, and acoustically rich. Corin's months of building a touch activated synth light show - much like in that one video - was time not wasted. Indeed, the word mesmerizing comes to mind. And the quality of Megan's vocals is truly pristine. From the start, these newbies gave Richmond quite a show.

In terms of influence, James admits she's not really in the loop. Fearing a music lovers tendency to get sucked into a sound, and potentially recreate it, the two stay as pure as possible. Though no music is wholly unique, they do what they can. Unlike like many derivative acts, the duo may owe a lot of their originality to not taking on a reactionary approach. A quality that certainly comes off in their unique sound. Yet, perhaps admitting more than the band would like, Megan divulges her main vocal influences were those of her first piano teacher: covers by R. Kelly, and eighties love ballads.

As performers, the pair were humble and genuine. From Megan's super cute dances of nervousness to the handsome Corin's little waves to his adoring young fans, the two made a winning combo. Giving many props to the headliner, Neon Indian, there were hints that this enjoyable act may not be long for the world of second on the bill.

With an album expected in the summer, Purity Ring is certainly a band to watch. You know, if you're into that whole "nightmare pop" thing.


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