Plunging for Preciousness. Purity Ring, Shrines.

Finally settling down to a record for review whilst attempting to unclog the WC may seem an unorthodox move and indeed it's quite undoubtedly not quite one of the presumed many activities Megan James and Corin Roddick were aspiring to soundtrack when they set to work on Shrines. That said, it's a decidedly acute way in which to discern what floats and what, within the context of their Purity Ring d├ębut full-length, doesn't quite work.

Needless to say Fineshrine, with its loveable, anatomy-inspired lyrics of "cut open my sternum and pull my little ribs around you", is the shit; the motherload lurking forbiddingly just about the u-bend. That, in this case, is therefore opener Crawlersout, an appositely wonky intro that's somewhat problematic to manoeuvre. Neither homely nor bewitching in many respects, it's an aqueous sludge of witch house hangover that's not merely all pop diva propensities but is also haunted by a chord progression redolent of Sheeran's abominably flimsy Lego House. Further pontification and protracted metaphor aside, it's a poor start.

Ungirthed is barely better: a blippy futuro-ballad, it could be bad Actress; or ameliorated Balam Acab; or indeed Mancunian newcomers Crap Collage as it festers in a vapourous mist of pernickety production and rudimentary hip hop vibe. The repeated refrain of "Ears ringing/ Teeth clicking" seems a futile attempt at the summoning of a synthetic fidget too; fleetingly euphoric amphetamine shakes or similar.

Equally indebted to the comparably faddy chillwave genre manufacture, synths glisten as though sunshine sprinkled over twinkling polar glacier on the likes of Saltkin, and Amenamy et cetera although alongside such babyish song titles, James' voice can prove jejune to the point of becoming somewhat ire-arousing. Her infatuation with the word little, for instance, is unmistakably irritating: routinely employed to quantify body parts – these corporeal diminutives include ribs, weakened legs, the belly, the heart and less defined "things" throughout the tracklisting – not only do they conjure imagery of a synthetic fragility, but they also service the impression of she as a frangible object; the sort of prissy little princess to broadcast dulcet irrelevance from new build balconies the length and breadth of Berkshire. Her starchy pleas for her "precious palace in its cage" to be safeguarded on the pseudo-sinister glitch-fest that is Belispeak only further exacerbate this potentially detrimental perception.

However it's when James and Roddick's vocals collide – as on the finickily dainty Grandloves – that the shit really hits the fan. If hers remain early Britney prim then his are more a crap cross-pollination of Ian Brown and an estranged member of Blazin' Squad spacing out underneath Chingford half-pipe and with the track itself punctuated rather excessively with iMail alert effects, it's a cluttered clusterfuck of dissatisfaction. The groggy womp of Cartographist is equivalently invidious.

Yet there's light at the end of the tunnel; functional piping at the end of the onerous struggle and that's Shuck. With its lyrics of spheres lustrous, it pertains to the lethargic irradiance of Peaking Lights' 936, with James' oft waffly sweet nothings here even closely akin to the shadowy deadpans of Indra Dunis. Does it do enough to allay the exasperation corresponding with that incurred when you've a puddle of sweat painted across your brow and half a forearm down the toilet though? Absolutely not. Maybe nothing could.

Mercifully, the record then stopped. At which point the sink promptly got blocked.


Jamie Holloway.