After their uncompromising 2008 debut ‘Beat Pyramid’, These New Puritans were hailed as a “next big thing”. Yet somehow you knew they would never be big as their music seemed so confrontational. Not for them the “Josef K Go Pop” of Domino labelmates Franz Ferdinand. Instead they made music which seemed tailor-made for modern warfare enthusiasts thanks to its chanted vocals and military percussion.
Yet when they’re on form These New Puritans have a canny knack for making music that seems very subversive but is actually no stranger to a dancefloor, albeit one frequented by studious types. ‘We Want War’ is as much informed by ragga beats as it is by marching bands. That the second half to the track is dominated by haunted choral accompaniment and mournful brass seems like a deliberate attempt to reassure everyone that they aren’t aiming for chart exposure just yet though. Likewise, ‘Three Thousand’ provides the missing link between Dizzee Rascal and Jonah Lewie.
Refreshingly, hitherto unnoticed signs of humanity occur regularly thanks to the warmth of their brass and woodwind arrangements and even a yearning vocal for ‘Hologram’ and some wistful nostalgia for the brilliant ‘Drum Courts – Where Corals Lie’. Hats off too for ‘White Chords’ where they master minimalist electronica and moody vocals in a manner which would make Radiohead very jealous indeed. Elsewhere the music is as clinical and precise as the noise of swords being drawn; a sound they seem to be quite fond of sampling judging by this release.
‘Hidden’ is certainly not the kind of album to help you unwind after a tough day at work. Yet however cold they still appear, the band offer something utterly unique; dipping into the most incongruous of influences and pulling out something quite extraordinary.