Album Review: These New Puritans – Hidden

Bands develop as time goes by. They add new layers to their music, shift creative direction and play with structures, concepts and melodies. The Horrors did that withPrimary Colours and the world’s jaw dropped. People barely had a chance to recover after the shock and These New Puritans released We Want War.

Now, if you had a bite of Beat Pyramid, you are aware that these boys aren’t exactly the normal ones out of the post-punk-Horrors-group. They indulged in sickly passions, three to be more precise. Number one: an obsessive love for Mark E. Smith, hence the insane repetitions. Number two: a snobbish usage of French. Number three: guitars that were at war with the rest of the instruments as done by Gang Of Four (a band we’re all sure TNP have a shrine of).

But, alas, being artists, TNP were not content with being just the odd post-punk revivalists and, with Hidden, they aim to take the crown from the likes of Animal Collective and cover the whole “alternative” area. So they borrowed like mad from different areas: opera, operetta, classical music and, yes, non-musical structures. Rest assured, their old loves are still present on this musical project.

For ‘album’ is not the word to be used when talking about Hidden. “Musical project” is because Hidden exists to alert the imagination and sharpen the senses. Appropriately, the first thing the four Southenders hit you with is Time Xone, a sea of calm that’s sole purpose is to wake you up from the lethargy. And so, they continue the attack. We Want War is half menacing drums, half choral chants and swords being sharpened. No, no radio play for you, puppet!

Three Thousand feels like it flows out of We Want War but brings in the equation part of the nauseating love for The Fall: broken spoken words. “They keeping the obsessive repetitions for later”, you think. And that’s when things take a 180 degrees turn: Hologram has a delicate piano and soothing vocals. Endless loop and we’re back. Attack Music finally showcases the same paranoid band that createdC±16th: it’s incredibly hypnotic and maniacal. You know you’ll be singing the lyrics next morning. And yes, you get swords again (or maybe knives, who can tell?).

Shamelessly, TNP sink deeper into repetition: Fire-Power and “I’m in the fire, fire”, while adding marching drums and a bass that cries out for a good soundsystem. Orion takes the drums further and that’s when you know Thomas Hein is one of those out of this world drummers. Among all these intricate instrumentals, you get another sea of calm this time in the form of a flute and calledCanticle. One minute and twelve seconds of rest before yet another climax: Drum Courts – Where Corals Lie. Mechanical drums, whispered lyrics, a choir, cold synths, elements of electronica.

And, as it draws closer to the end, Hidden brings you White Cords. Dub-scented, Jack Barnett’s barely sung (yet, sung!) lines, heavy drums that fill your speakers. And, at the very end, TNP remind you their love for something else: cyclic things. Yes, Beat Pyramid began with …ice I Will Say This Twice and ended with I Will Say This Tw… . While it’s not that obvious this time, 5 with its xylophone, choirs and trumpets does bring you back to the zone of the intro.

So, you press play again. And while you listen to Hidden one more time, you realise all it needs is a big stage production to underline the beauty and complexity of the instrumentals. I’m thinking something involving an apocalyptical landscape.

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