2 June 2013

These New Puritans - Hidden

William Shakespeare certainly made a case in point when he said "If music be the food of love, play on, give me excess."  and Art Rock has been with us for at least 50 years. The forefathers of this genre, David Bowie, Roxy Music and early Genesis broke into the mainstream with a palpable energy with intent to re-write the rules of songwriting if you'll excuse the pun. For me, it's too loose a term to classify as the genre covers many fields in creativity,  but it could be best personified as an audio Tate Gallery. Or at least that's how it seems.

London based These New Puritans have only been around as an entity since 2006 but they're already making a few waves on the scene, especially round their backyard in Southend.  I admit it isn't exactly a town noted for a brimful of talent, but this second album of TNP, Hidden, is proof that there's more to than meets the ear. The songwriting talent is almost entirely down to vocalist, producer and multi-instrumentalist Jack Barnett and the effort put into Hidden is there for all to hear. It runs on a minimalist feel, with several brass and woodwind pieces alternating with many electronic bleeps and loops just to keep the music flowing smoothly although there are some other outside musical contributions to hold our interest.

The first notable track is the ethereal choral and Taiko drum led We Want War, a 7:30 opus, but the longest song on Hidden. Three Thousand lends itself to heavy beats and spinet backdrops while Attack Music curiously has a children's choir alternating with woodwind and Barnett almost orating throughout. Fire-Power  is an urgent track, with the beat largely running along a similar line to Pink's So What! followed up by Orion with synths reminiscent of Jean Michel Jarre. Then we have Drum Courts - Where the Corals Lie, a heavily used sample of an Edward Elgar/Richard Garnett piece which makes this already curious album even more leftfield.

I did describe this album as minimalistic at the beginning, so having listened to it a few times over, maybe it's time for me to eat humble pie. I would never have doubted that there have been quite a few man hours that have been put into the mixing and recording of it and Hidden is indeed a beautifully produced album. While lyrically not challenging, the important thing is that it flows with the beat however the number of times the beat changes. Expecting great things from These New Puritans, so quite a benchmark for them to set. M. Richardson 02/06/2013.

8 out of 10. Oh, now you have my attention, and maybe my money, time and heart.

You can purchase the album here

You can listen to the album here on Spotify

You can follow all the band's activities here

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