Touring their second album “Hidden”, These New Puritans (a four piece from Southend-on-Sea) have touched down in Brighton to play their “anti-avant garde”, “anti-experimental” songs. For a band who describe themselves as such, that’s exactly what they DO sound like to me, so maybe I’m seriously missing something here.
Since the new album features huge Taiko Japanese drums, a 13 piece brass and woodwind orchestra, a children’s choir plus various Jack Foley recording techniques, I’m fully expecting a lot of it to be reproduced using samples so no surprise when this proves to be the case.
They launch straight into current single “We want war”, it features a lot of heavy drumming (as do all their songs), some bassoon and horns, a lot of strange sound effects and is a 7 minute intensive, highly expressive introduction to what this band sound like now as opposed to what they sounded like on the first album. Jack Barnett’s growled, whispered and hushed vocals also remind me a bit of Tricky, but it’s really not worth comparing this band to anyone else as they’re a pretty unique entity in their own right.
Not every front person has to engage with the audience (I just prefer it) and at the end of each song Barnett simply says “thank you” and the band launch straight into the next number. Halfway through the set though he does sincerely thank everyone for coming out to support them.
They play everything off the album and it all sounds pretty good to me. Both drummers enthusiastically bash away at their respective drum kits and one has a set of heavy chains on a stand which make a good sound whenever they’re used. “Attack music” sounds great. My favourite track on the album, it has the children’s choir singing the hook and is punctuated throughout by the sound of glass breaking and a swishing noise that sounds like a knife being drawn from a sheath.
All in all, a good but not great gig. Worth seeing live to appreciate the depth and layers of sounds they’ve put together to create an album that sounds like nothing else I’ve bought in a long time. Which is no bad thing at all.