When they were producing the latest Purity Ring album, Megan James and Corin Roddick were in the same room at the same time a lot. That might sound like standard operating procedure, but it was a new experience for this pair.
While making their first album, 2011’s Shrines, the two Edmontonians were living in separate cities and collaborating electronically. The resulting record was remarkably cohesive and it defined the Purity Ring aesthetic: James’s deceptively sweet vocals nestled within Roddick’s misty synths and trap-inspired beats.
“The lines between our specific roles were definitely blurred this time,” Roddick says of working face to face on Purity Ring’s new LP, Another Eternity. “Megan still writes all the lyrics and I’m still the producer, but we gave each other a lot more feedback on the other’s parts that we were contributing. It was really a much more collaborative experience in the way that we weren’t afraid of trying to get involved with every aspect of it. We still have our main roles in the band, but it felt more like a real band kind of project this time instead of an Internet collaboration, I guess.”
Speaking from a tour stop in Chicago, Roddick says that much of Shrines came together by sheer fluke. In contrast, Another Eternity was carefully mapped out. “There was more intention behind every sound and part, and every melody and texture,” the producer notes. “Through the songs on that album there’s a lot of thought put into how each one would interact with the other, and how long they should stay around for, while still trying to focus on the vocals and make that the most important, up-front part. Things like that were elements that I didn’t really have a handle on yet when we were doing Shrines. I was figuring those things out, I think, but it wasn’t until we started working on Another Eternity that I felt a bit more confident with those aspects.”
Another Eternity is arguably more accessible than its predecessor; songs like “Heartsigh” and “Bodyache” carry powerful hooks and a cleaner, more direct sound. “Flood on the Floor”, with its spare hip-hop groove and the explosion of crunktastic synthesizer arpeggios during its chorus, has garnered more than one comparison to Katy Perry’s “Dark Horse”.
That seems like a major shift for an act more accustomed to being spoken of in the same breath as the Knife and Burial, but for Roddick, it’s a natural step.
“It’s funny to me to hear people suddenly be like, ‘Oh, you decided to make pop music,’ because from the very beginning we were like, ‘Let’s be a pop band,’ ” Roddick says. “I think we’ve just maybe gotten better at it. It’s maybe more noticeable on Another Eternity because we’ve learned a lot. Shrines was my very first attempt at producing at all, so it was really a learning experience for me. I’m still learning a lot. I still have a very long ways to go as a producer, but when it came time to work on Another Eternity, I definitely felt a bit more experienced, and I had more of an idea of what we wanted to do.”
If nothing else, Another Eternity makes a strong case in favour of being in the same room as your creative partner.
Purity Ring plays the Vogue Theatre on Monday (June 15).