It’s a bleak, magical world of unease and syncopated beats that the aptly named These New Puritans open the door to you with on their new album. Far beyond this mere mortal world, the record offers devilishly ethereal soundscapes on a near cinematic scale. After the release of their first album Beat Pyramid, tongues were wagging at Jack Barnett’s dreamy prospect’s of "drums and trains" and "lots of music for bassoon" creeping onto the new record and we can see by all accounts that they’re indeed there, accompanied by terrifying bass, death marches and thundering drums.In a mishmash of hefty intellectual insight and musical progressiveness, TNP side step tackling their musical influences by playing cat and mouse with them instead. Bartlett, the band’s dictator, draws on Benjamin Britten's opera 'Peter Grimes', Steve Reich, "and the plastic textures of modern US pop” as motivation, playfully forging their newly formed sound with choirs, oboes and digitized drums making this an unexpectedly original and focused album. From ‘We Want War’, a seven minute epic that starts off like MIA’s ‘Galang’, Bartlett rips away at the core with scintillating tribal drums and a haunting choir that respond to Bartlett’s wandering vocals like a Greek chorus, ending with the crisp slice of a sword being drawn. There’s more than an echo of something tragic and battlefield-esque in this album, and the troubled woodwinds, whirling electro skips and hallucinogenic dancehall echoes that haunt the record make it, like anything progressive, not an easy listen either. There are the sparse tracks like ‘5’ that come across like scraps The Gotan Project, groaning in mesmerising accordions and minimal wonderment, or 'Time Xone’ the organic start to the album, dawning with swelling, mournful brass and distant animal noises that jolt into the impatient ‘We Want War’.Putting aside the seven minute epics, there are more accessible tracks like ‘The White Chords’, a humdinger of skittering beats and rousing lyrics that make Bartlett feign Thom Yorke vocals on the back of chattering heartbeats and twisted metal. Another great track, ‘Attack Music’ comes like fire raining from the sky, smashing glass and breaking drums with venomous ferocity, while ‘Hologram’ appears like hope in a Pandora’s box, bubbling in delectable pianos and intense vocals, blasting itself into the severity of more crunchy, crystal beats. In its excess you never quite know what story, if any, the band is trying to tell. Devoid almost entirely of guitars and dominated by primal beats and eerie chorals, there is a message behind the record that relates more to music production as an organic form than as something manufactured. Perhaps this is why they prefer to call themselves as an ‘anti experimental’ band, working from intellectual and musical inspirations and letting their own sound blossom rather than leaning towards trends; it’s a far more ballsy way of working with a far more extraordinary result at any rate.RECOMMENDED

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