As Purity Ring explode into the upper echelon of attention-grabbing indie bands, one often wonders where in the hell their eccentric blend of chopped hip-hop beats, ethereal vocals, and clustering electronic compositions came from. That duo of Corin Roddick and Megan James once worked with Cecil Frena under the name Gobble Gobble, together producing a Jamie Stewart-ian chop-and-howl electro-pop intensity. As Purity Ring formed, Frena changed his project name to Born Gold, and the two outlets began moving into similar territory. On his second album under the name, Little Sleepwalker, Born Gold skirts the instant success that Roddick and James found.
The difference between Born Gold and Purity Ring often comes down to the difference in vocals. The skittering, layered electronics and heavy percussion often sound interchangeable with the instrumental beds of Shrines. Frena’s delivery, on the other hand, takes a more literal glance at those genres that he’s altering. On “Lethe”, his croon (despite being covered in dozens of Knife-y vocal effects) has that smoky, auto-tuned coo of so much recent hip-hop. The walkie-talkie’d backing vocals on “That Way” are incredibly cheesy, a la Timbaland on Justin Timberlake’s “SexyBack”.
Its clear that Frena has a deep working knowledge of hip-hop, but he’s not entirely ditching his electro-pop workings. “I: Ferocious Body” drifts on infectious synths and woozy beats, a cousin to Gayngs’ weirdo R&B as well as eccentric dance acts. “Sky Bicycle” fairly exclusively leans to the latter half of that equation, a bleary-eyed, bass-heavy shot of pop. Other tracks like “Dawn Tunnel” meander in instrumental wonderlands.
Little Sleepwalker provides an interesting insight into the fact that Purity Ring didn’t appear out of nowhere. It also shows that Frena is at their heels with some of his own material, though as of now it lacks their unique identity and focus.
Essential Tracks: “Sky Bicycle”