Album of the Day: Purple Pilgrims, “Perfumed Earth”

To create their spellbinding sophomore record, Perfumed Earth, sisters Valentine and Clementine Nixon retreated to the woods of their native New Zealand. As Purple Pilgrims, the duo craft otherworldly electronic sounds cloaked in magic, mystery, and romance. There’s an earthiness to the group’s soft tendrils of guitar and soft fog of reverb. But while the record’s nine tracks evoke the dreamiest of dreampop, there’s darkness buried just beneath.

For much of Perfumed Earth, Purple Pilgrims abandon not only modern society, but the 21st century altogether, delivering tragic tales of gothic romance with light, ethereal vocals, setting them against delicate arrangements. Think Kate Bush, if she collaborated with Beach House. On “Sensing Me,” they sing of a “high-heeled boy soul steeped in sorrow” who plans a furtive meeting at a cemetery. Death crops up throughout the record—so do sadness, isolation, anxiety, and regret. The sparkling “Two Worlds Apart” is built around the phrase, “I was born to live alone / The only life I’ve ever known.”

Perfumed Earth closes with the lush, haunting “Tragic Gloss,” where the lines between life and death become blurred. Our heroine longs to meet her dearly departed lover where he rests “beneath a stone of grey.” “Never will I find release,” she laments; by the song’s end, she’s met her own harrowing fate. A grim fairy tale rooted firmly in the past, Perfumed Earth is an eerily tranquil reminder that some terrors are timeless.

-Loren DiBlasi

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