Flying Nun, 2019
Purple Pilgrims is made up of sister duo, Clementine and Valentine Nixon from Tapu, New Zealand. They’ve been compared to the likes of Beach House and Kate Bush. Perfumed Earth is their second album out through Flying Nun Records. It’s a mix of dream pop and avant-garde folk with moments of jazz experimentation. The sisters create a synthesised folk that is enchanting and unsettling all at once, and their voices are like spell craft, rippling and echoing like a coin dropped down a well.
I first got acquainted with their music when I saw them support John Maus at the Factory Theatre recently. I was enamoured by their beautiful, ethereal voices – they were like a less annoying version of the Cocteau Twins. I also loved their loosely matching outfits and the definitely matching centre parts to their hair. They juggled the synth and guitar work, often switching roles between songs, while harmonising or taking turns on vocals or layering their voices to create a warmth and richness like stacking stained glass windows.
The album gently varies. The track “I’m Not Saying” is more of a straight-up shoe-gazey folk-pop love song, though it melts away into the spookier avant-garde song “Delphiniums in Harmony: Two Worlds Away”, which is an experimental instrumental where the saxophone swarms in otherworldly confusion.
Their lyrics should be commended as well, in “Love In Lunacy” the repeated line “living is just so hard these days” is memorable for its earnestness. They even have comic moments with a pessimism dreamily distilled: “[I] read all the books that one should read.”
Another single released in 2017, “Drink the Juice”, has been on repeat for me lately. It has a strong Lana Del Ray vibe – a cultish incantation with a bass-y synth beat like they’re futuristic sirens of the Jonestown Massacre.
Perfumed Earth as an album is smooth listening, like golden leaves on the surface of a river, though it rewards a return listen to plumb the depths of its experimentation, lyricism and cross-pollination of genres.