Review: Purity Ring’s Personal Bittersweet Electronica In ‘WOMB’

Purity Ring | WOMB | 4AD

Release Date: 3 April, 2020

The deeply conceptual and emotional nature of duo Purity Ring’s work has always been one of their most alluring traits; the sweet velveteen vocals of songstress Megan James with the intimate craft of dreamlike electronic and synth-pop – and while the silken, candy-coated vocals of James may allude to a version of dream-pop that is lighter in tone, the subject matter within each release is raw and dark, calling for a full, gritty examination of what lies beneath our skin – a perfect contrast in (dreamlike) sound with a very real dice into our human nature.

WOMB’ is no different, yet the narrative within it is exceptionally focused, evidently more mature – the delve into a new phase of womanhood for youth; what it means to grow and cultivate life, not just within a pregnant belly but as an adolescent, a young girl finding herself on the cusp of a new era in her life. A foundation built on both the beautiful experiences, and the exceptionally difficult reality of what it means to simply – exist, and move through this turbulent world we inhabit. To regain power in the face of adversity and loss – to find strength within. One may find all listeners deeply moved within the raw darkness of Purity Ring’s lyrics, but for those who are, and have grown up with this experience of navigating womanhood in particular – it hits really close to home.

The bittersweet, candy-coated aura of ‘pink lighting‘ is one of the tracks from ‘WOMB’ that glitters stunningly as most reminiscent of their earlier work: and while the signature luminosity of their dreamlike, sweetly luminous auditory personality shimmers with soul and fluttering firefly electronics – the track showcases a touching sense of growth and evolution, a maturity in composition that stands out in a brilliant vibrancy. James’ saccharine vocals blend effortlessly with the melodious oscillating synths, dulcet and stirring – with the thoughtful, melancholic tenderness of the lyrics a bewitching juxtaposition. Swelling synths and the glistening gems of crystalline electronics shape a mesmerising, deeply engaging atmosphere.

warm water rises
it still feels like I can’t stop crying
hold me inside it
still feels like the storm’s not dying
and all that was undone was
done when we were young
I’m not sure how it feels quite

The tone of ‘i like the devil‘ is delicately darker (as one may expect from the track title) than other tracks on ‘WOMB‘, however the duo manage to structure the composition in a way that contrasts smoothly; a swirling mixture of ambient, and rhythmic electronics sculpt a soundscape teeming with the feel of a nostalgic, haunting twilight – while the starry dream-pop and low, pulsing beat weave in tandem, spectral snakes agile and dynamic while remaining focused. Detailed layers of atmospheric electronic textures shape a deeply personal and emotional aura, easily to lose oneself in – a gentle lament, an angelic yearning and raw, tender pain.

what is happiness but a word
spoken from on high for what it’s worth
flown beneath the wings of little birds
but i have felt the wind crawl where we’re cursed

find us in the folded parts she pressed
lying in positions like we’ve slept
find us in the hallows of her chest
lying in positions like we’ve slept

i like the devil can fly
i read her sweet mind last night
i like god can fly
i held a candle over her fright

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Rating: 7 / 10

Feature Image: Purity Ring by Carson Davis Brown