At my only live encounter in January 2008 with These New Puritans I dismissed them as youthful and shouty Fall copyists - but with synths. How foolish and narrow-minded of me. Again.
Second album "Hidden" from the Southend-on-Sea four-piece is epic in sound, monstrously ambitious and couldn't be further away from my throwaway pigeon-holing. Jack Barnett has described the record thus: " the main musical components are: brass and woodwind ensemble recordings; really close, solo woodwind; beats/roto-toms/taiko drums; knives and foley; pre-set sounds (dancehall, US pop). It's anti-experimental music - deliberately anti-distortion and anti-reverb".
Coming to me via The Album Club, my first listen to it was an extraordinary experience. Expecting an angrier The XX, what I got was martial drums, tribal chanting, brooding string sections, choral singing (including at several points a kids choir), programmed beats and more ominous drums. And at one point I'm sure what sounded like a sword being drawn.
After the gentle woodwind instrumental prelude of 'Time Xone' that opens the record, you are hit with the belligerent seven-minute ' We Want War'. It's like Benjamin Britten and Timbaland collaborating on a fight song. With forty-nine instrumentalists.
"Hidden" does take itself too seriously and at times the constant stridency and the thin estuary English vocals can be wearying. But it's early days for me and this record. Each time I play it, I hear something new in the musical detail. So I'm not sure what I will think of the record come the end of the year but one of my first thoughts on hearing it was 'how the hell are they going to pull this off live'??
Well, Manchester will find out tonight when These New Puritans play The Deaf Institute with support from Trailer Trash Tracys. I cannot be there but would love to hear how it was: leave a comment or link to any reviews. As on record, I'm sure live These New Puritans cannot be second-guessed.
Tonight is a Now Wave promotion with tickets in advance at £9 face value. Don't leave it to chance there will be tickets on the door - that would be foolish. And narrow-minded.