Over the last few years Canada, and in particular Montreal, has been a rich source of fresh indie music talent. Bands like Arcade Fire, The Dears and Wolf Parade set the standard as the French Canadian city underwent a cultural shift during the last decade that was likened to Seattle’s rebirth in the nineties. And now, with a well-developed scene in place, a host of exciting new artists are emerging with seemingly musical invention and experimentation on their minds.
Names such as Grimes, Doldrums and D’eon are acting like the new kids on the block, pushing the boundaries further than their predecessors with genre-busting tracks built on murky beats and new-age synths. Grimes especially has been hyped for her industrial electropop embracing an unusual combination of ethereal vocal elements and blurred soundscapes.
Next in line are Purity Ring, a duo formed by Corin Roddick and singer Megan James, originally from Edmonton but now living in Montreal. Their debut record Shrines is one of the more anticipated indie releases of the summer after the couple were snapped up by 4AD. Following in the footsteps of label mate Grimes, it’s an experimental pop sound featuring a nice mix of throwback synths, progressive electronic tones and glassy vocals.
From the Bjork-esque, Fineshrine and catchy Ungirthed to the lo-fi brooding of Grandloves and Lofticries, Roddick and James seem to pull simultaneously from both the past and the present with no lack of articulating ability. And yet the record has a warm cohesion to it as the different styles reside naturally in a way that is neither forced nor self-conscious. Shrines may lack the bombast of Grimes’ Visions but in its understated, hazy way it feels like this album might go on to establish Purity Ring as the leaders of the new Montreal sound.