What does it sound like?:
These New Puritans don’t really sound like anyone else around right now (don’t be fooled by the band name – they sound nowt like The Fall) – which is something of a rarity these days. This is their 4th one – and the follow up to the hugely acclaimed ‘Field of Reeds’, an extraordinary record which I played to death. There’s some trepidation when a band follows up a record you love, especially after a 6 year gap. Initial signs are promising – the artwork is lavish and quite preposterous depicting the band (essentially now the two brothers George and Jack Barnett) pulling a showroom dummy pose, the Vinyl is coloured to resemble the rusting hulk of a ship or maybe a stained copper pub table – and the inner sleeve depicts a tastefully nude figure with the words TRANSCENDENCE – BRUTALITY – BEAUTY – REALITY superimposed over her. Yeah OK that may put some of you off, but they’re deadly serious so let’s dive in, they’ve nailed their colours to the mast here – this ain’t Mumford & Sons.
First off this isn’t as immediate a record as Field of Reeds which has an emotional heft which sweeps you in from the off. However, this is one of those records that you instinctively know will take a few listens and sure enough it rewards repeated plays – I trust this band, they know what they’re doing. It’s a rich, brilliantly produced, expansive and complex album. There are some bass drops and beats which sound very current, while at the same time this could be a record from that weird late 70s/early 80s hinterland (the 8Venties as the ChartMusic Podcast would have it) that produced bands like This Heat, but there are also glimmers of the wistful 80s sophisticated pop of Prefab Sprout (a reference point for the band) and definitely the later period of Talk Talk and Japan. Fans of Massive Attack, particularly the darker stuff like Mezzanine might find a tube train handle to grab onto here. I’m also taken back to that early 90s period when bands like Bark Psychosis, Disco Inferno, Seefeel and Butterfly Child were charting a potential new future for Rock music before Bonehead and his gormless pals hammered it back to a non-existent 60s orthodoxy. Choral voices, strings, horns and beats mix in a dizzying but very melodic and very enjoyable listening experience.
What does it all *mean*?
This is grand, ambitious, expansive, extraordinary music for late nights and rain-lashed streets. Give it a spin, and get the previous one if you haven’t already.
Goes well with…
Might suit people who like…
Talk Talk, Bark Psychosis, Massive Attack, Japan, This Heat, Robert Wyatt, Depeche Mode, Prefab Sprout, Coil, Current 93