Review of Beat Pyramid Album by These New Puritans

These New Puritans
Beat Pyramid
Angular Records
Album Review

These New Puritans Beat Pyramid Album

Having emerged from the same Southend Junk Club scene as the likes of The Horrors, The Violets and more recently Ipso Facto, the one thing that makes - always has really, if we're being truthful - These New Puritans stand out is their seemingly endless endeavour to embrace change. And at such a furious pace too.

Their debut EP 'Now Pluvial' arrived less than eighteen months ago, partly held up as the last bastion of Joy Division flavoured art rock, others hailing them as the more edgy dialect of the incongruous "new rave" scene. Since then of course it's been one continuous dalliance with evolution, and now the product of such development has arrived in the shape of 'Beat Pyramid', it's hard to imagine many people being disappointed with the final outcome.

Sure, there'll be purists confused by the band's neither here-nor-there stance and flirtation with genres not normally associated with the self-appointed cool we like to distinguish our art school tinged bands with (80s industrial noise, Bangra beat). For the rest of us where familiarity can often breed contempt, one thing These New Puritans can ever be accused of is being predictable. If anything, their experimental urges are what makes 'Beat Pyramid' 2008's first essential purchase, every subsequent airing offering the listener something new and challenging without resorting to imbalanced pomposity or uneasy noodling.

Comprising of 15 tracks in all, of which four are little more than interludes clocking in at little over a minute between them, it's also highly unlikely 'Beat Pyramid' will induce many yawns either. Of the eleven pieces of music that remain, six of those will be familiar, recent single 'Colours' and perennial live favourite (and 45) 'Elvis' among them. What is more enthralling though is the way even established songs like 'En Papier' and 'C16th' find themselves dissected and re-assembled in any which way, while recent b-side 'Numbers' finds itself de-constructed and re-invented' as the invigorative 'Numerology'.

Almost feeling like a concept album, These New Puritans main songwriter Jack Barnett having made no secret of his particular fascination with angles, colours and numbers, 'Beat Pyramid' takes an even more exciting diversion on the Eastern-flavoured 'Swords Of Truth', the undisputed highlight of the album and by far one of the most ambitious pieces of music this or any other band has attempted in recent years. Owing more to the likes of Ofra Haza than any South London indie combo, 'Swords Of Truth' feels like a blueprint for how multi-cultural dance music will sounds in the future. Once the rest of the competition has finished playing catch-up, of course.

With the Rakes sounding 'Mkk3' being the only real hint at their Junk Club past, 'Beat Pyramid' is a triumph for diversity and originality and if These New Puritans can hone their lofty ambitions even further, the omens for albums two and three look distinctly mouth-watering indeed.

Dom Gourlay

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