Purity Ring at the Roundhouse
Though music is, of course, an inherently aural medium, there’s nevertheless a lot to be said for an entertaining light show, and on this at least, Purity Ring deliver. With the stage decked out in cascades of multicoloured LEDs and a percussion kit that’s straight from science-fiction, there’s clearly intent to impress and, increasingly, to distract from the fact that the band themselves aren’t doing all that much. It’s obvious that Purity Ring know their weaknesses and how to play to their strengths.
The set begins with album tracks Stranger than Earth and Heartsigh, which set the scene in no uncertain terms for the show to come: sparse techno beats and delicate chimes give way to warm, bassy synth and powerful harmony, heartfelt verse and anthemic chorus, bound together by the unusual vocal style of singer Megan James. It’s a style that capitalises on the recent trend of electronic artists such as M83 and FKA Twigs, and it can’t help but seem a little derivative simply because today’s musical climate is saturated with very similar artists.
It doesn’t help that, whether through technical error or deliberate amping, the crisp fidelity common to this style of music is absent from Purity Ring’s performance. The very notion of intelligible lyrics has obviously been written off as an acceptable loss, in favour of the bull-in-china-shop wall-of-sound approach. It’s a shame, because without those words, every song sounds exactly the same as the last. Even highlights, like Bodyache and the set’s finale Begin Again have very little to differentiate them from the show’s lowest points. There’s consistency from track to track, but there’s no sense that the band is ever building towards anything. That, ultimately, is the problem that now faces Purity Ring: how to turn this set from a fairly intriguing sound and light display into something truly spectacular.
Photos: Guifré de Peray
For further information about Purity Ring and future events visit here.
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