These New Puritans – Field of Reeds

these new puritansFor a band whose ambition is practically unparalleled amongst their contemporaries, it’s hardly a surprise that These New Puritans’ promise of a pop - or “Disney music” - third album failed to come to fruition. The claim, made at roughly the same time as the release of their second album Hidden, seemed a tad far-fetched even then; the sinister and intense sound that they had honed at that point hardly leant itself to upbeat, sunny sing-a-longs written as though they should be sung by courageous foxes or pessimistic mice. A more natural progression has come in the form of Field of Reeds: an uncompromising, polarising record that befuddles and amazes in equal measure.

A departure from the beat-heavy post-punk of their first two albums, the record has more in common with minimalist classical music than the work of Wire or Gang of Four. The songs (or perhaps more appropriately, ‘pieces’) unfurl themselves to create mysterious, original soundscapes laden with blurred, mumbled vocals and hypnotic piano loops. The result is a slow-burning, challenging record which rewards multiple listens and scoffs derisively at the contemporary ‘indie’ scene with which this band is often so lazily grouped. Frankly, it’s entitled to.

The titular track is certainly a standout, featuring the strange, astonishing bass vocal of Adrian Peacock. The effect of this vocal is a jarring one, but one that compliments Jack Barnett’s own with surprising ease. Similarly, “Organ Eternal” is hypnotic and incredibly well executed, with a piano loop that is introduced and re-introduced throughout. Some of the tracks veer slightly off course on their way to left field (see: “Nothing Else”), but these are few and far between considering the innovation displayed here.

While on first listen Field of Reeds is somewhat difficult, further listens worm their way into the psyche and reward the time spent. Words such as ‘antagonising’ and ‘elitist’ may well be bandied around with regards to this record- but if this is where ‘indie’ music can head to, then that is nothing to be critical about. As uncompromising and tough as it is subtle and understaded, Field of Reeds is a genuine marvel.

Release: 10th June 2013, Infectious Music

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