He’s back, due to popular demand (well he demanded I let him back again) our Roving Reporter has returned to Rough Trade East to catch These New Puritans performing live to promote Hidden, their new album which has already gained rave reviews across the board. They are also one of three ‘T’s on the list so look out for my thoughts on Hidden in due course.
Here’s what he had to say:
I don’t know much. The first song was a seven minute epic – We Want War. After that, I’ve no idea. Looking through the vinyl album sleeve notes, only four out of ten songs have their lyrics printed. Where are the rest? In the who plays what bit – Jack Barnett plays a whopping fifteen instruments, Sophie Sleigh-Johnson has nothing next to her name. Perhaps, These New Puritans new album title provides some explanation – ‘Hidden’. Maybe the band want to leave some things unknown.
I went along to the instore based on hearing just one track, the aforementioned ‘We Want War’. It’s a song that would perfectly accompany a dramatic film – pounding drum beats, extensive horn section, odd samples, a children’s choir, heck it even features the decade’s first use of a knife as an instrument. If you asked 100 people to interpret what its all about, you’d get 100 different ideas.
So you can imagine, I was more than a little intrigued to hear how this spectacle was going to be recreated live. The answer was more cables and gadgets than your local branch of Maplin Electronics. Laptop, cables, synths, pedals, distortion, delay, another laptop, switches and a little box that lights up with Tetris shapes. If that all sounds like it would add up to a manufactured, hollow performance, again the band defy expectations. Duel drumming twin brothers make for an organic, raw power that propels the whole experience along.
In terms of the rest of the performance, there was the odd momentary delay between songs prepping gadgets. Between song chat was zero, which probably suits the band quite well but it would have been nice to know what they were playing. The set was all too brief, just five songs. Possibly due to the sheer amount of effort required to recreate one song, let alone any more than five. Did I mention that the keyboard parts were complex enough that they needed handwritten sheet music?
Apologies, if this review is leaving you a bit baffled. Its just the effect These New Puritans have on you even after a short time in their presence. They are not the finished article and you wouldn’t expect them to be, none of them look older than about 19. I can’t wait to listen to the album in full, I wonder what further hidden delights await?
Thanks once again to Rover (I like it but he says its too much of a dogs name) for that review. BTW, there is no truth to the rumour that I only send him to these instore performances in order to fetch me the albums and bonus CD’s, its just a happy coincidence.