These New Puritans
Mar 02, 2010 Issue #30 - Winter 2010 - Vampire Weekend
These New Puritans make songs that are spastic, harsh, and urgent, founded on coats of electronics and repetitive, vague, and half-spoken vocals from frontman Jack Barnett. Hidden, the young British group's sophomore full-length, was made much in the same vein as 2007's Beat Pyramid, but at times it's even less coherent. The opener, "Time Xone," is two minutes of unhurried, melodic woodwinds and horns that nonsensically segue into the bombastic bass thuds, rim-clicks, and wavering synths of the record's first single, "We Want War." It's an intense track with a low, monstrous chant of "We want war" throughout it and, like much of TNP's work, perhaps best fit for a video game.
While Beat Pyramid had some melodic guitar contributions, the six-strings—if there even are any this time—get lost on Hidden. Instead, the band employs extra synth chords, orchestral arrangements, and a children's choir. The choir is particularly haunting in "Attack Music," which sounds just like its title would suggest and uses the sounds of pulling out a sword amid clarinets and breaking glass. There are two instrumental interludes besides the opener, and the orchestra, which also appears in "Drum Courts-Where Chorals Lie," works much better when it's laced in with the electronics, rather than used separately. The most out-of-place moment, though, is "Hologram," a piano-driven jazz song with wacky time-signature changes that Barnett actually sings instead of chants.
Ultimately, it's the combination of drums, both acoustic and synthesized, that keep the record afloat, from the tribal beats in "We Want War," to the amazing marching-band drumline-sounding effects in "Fire-Power," to the gorgeous bell chorus throughout "5" (the last of which hardly fits with the rest of the set). Despite the consistently grating vocals and an overall lack of cohesion, the beats make it worth a listen. (www.thesenewpuritans.com)
Author rating: 5/10
Average reader rating: 9/10