Warped, compelling future-pop, with a bit of mutilation thrown into the mix

Purity Ring’s vocalist Megan James seems so… nice. It’s 10am and the band have been travelling for days, but instead of rattling on sleeping pills and screaming at children (like Radar would) she is enthusiastic, she’s bright and she says everything is “incredible!” The first time you listen to her band and that sweet voice, you’ll probably think, “Ooh, she’s sooooo nice” too. That is, until you listen to what she’s singing about. This is a woman who writes about bodily fluids seeping into fractured skulls, crying bones, dead voices and drilling holes in eyelids. She’s a Canadian Slayer in a lovely curly wig.

But it wasn’t always this way. Purity Ring only formed in late 2010, when 24-year-old Megan was approached by 21-year-old Corin Roddick. They’d known each other from playing in electro-pop upstarts Born Gold (formerly Gobble Gobble) and came together again when Corin realised he needed someone to sing over the beats he’d been writing while on tour. At the start of 2011 they uploaded ‘Ungirthed’, starting a buzz clusterfuck the size of Saturn, with love coming in from fans, blogs and major record labels. “It was like, ‘OK, we’re going to have to write another song!’” she says, explaining that later tracks ‘Lofticries’ and ‘Belispeak’ only came into being three months afterwards.

Now, finally, debut album ‘Shrines’ is about to come out on 4AD. It’s a weird yet compelling listen; sometimes straight-up indie, sometimes what’s been hailed as future-pop (or, just electronic pop music with bits of wavy hip-hop wedged in). On their current European tour they’ll fit just as well with the brilliant tumultuous bass of LA duo Nguzunguzu (at Berlin’s Berghain) as they do with Brighton guitar group Fear Of Men (at London indie institution White Heat). There are tracks like ‘Fineshrine’ where Megan coos the grim “get a little closer, cut out my sternum and poke” over a warped echoey rhythm, and makes it sound like a fey (but murdery) take on R Kelly asking a lover to “Sex me, baby baby sex me”. So come on, Megan, what’s it all about? “I just daydream lyrics like that,” she says (yup) enthusiastically…
Siân Rowe

Need To Know

Based: Halifax/Montreal, Canada
For Fans Of: Grimes, Jai Paul
Buy It Now: Single ‘Obedear’ is out now on 4AD. Buy LP ‘Shrines’ on July 24
Believe It Or Not: Corin had never made music with a computer until he started Purity Ring