20 Watts

ISSUE 21 | Reviews: These New Puritans’ Hidden by 20watts
April 1, 2010, 1:12 am
Filed under: Issue 21, Issue 21 Reviews | Tags: , , , ,

These New Puritans' latest work yields variety, but lacks focus.

Part of our Issue 21 coverage!

PREVIEW: Visit These New Puritans’ MySpace
WE GIVE IT: 12/20 Watts

These New Puritans’ second full-length album delivers an impressively loaded soundscape of experimental art rock. Full of tribal drum beats, skillful synth work, a thirteen-piece brass and woodwind en­semble, it’s an understatement to say that Hidden is all over the place. The album itself functions as a piece of modernist art, and its tracks sound like they would be selec­tions for New York’s MoMA’s playlist.

Opening track “Time Xone” lackadaisi­cally introduces the album, coming off as far too boring and uneventful against a collection otherwise full of loud activity. Consisting of a lonely, faint horn section it fails to pull the listener into the other ten tracks. Patience pays off though, as the next track, the seven-minute epic “We Want War,” picks up the slack. It begins slowly with a sparse drum beat, but builds into a crazed, chaotic tribal house session.

“Hologram” incorporates a quiet but steady xylophone, a lovely layering of the aforementioned brass and woodwind instruments with piano and the soft, sooth­ing vocals of frontman Jack Barnett. While the track moves with a slow, relaxed pace, “Attack Music” abruptly follows it. Driven by intense, thumping electronic samples and gang vocals, the transition ends up awkward and unsettling.

And that gets to this album’s problem. While These New Puritans can impressively mix so many different instruments and sounds together, the lack of continuity is discomforting. This album is just too all over the place, and the band suffers for it.

— Eric Hoffman

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