It’s The New Thing

Album of the Year 2008?
February 19, 2008, 5:13 am
Filed under: Angular Records, Beat Pyramid, These New Puritans

35 minutes of refined innovation. That is Beat Pyramid is a sentence. Released in January this record is already stating its claim for album of 2008, because it really is that good.

These New Puritans have never been your average bunch of British musicians. The Southend quartet’s debut EP, Now Pluvial, was released in the winter of 2006 after they came to prominence playing at the now defunct Junk Club in their hometown. Signed to the Angular Recording Corporation the band came into the scenester’s line of vision after an appearance of a free CD in the NME. But unlike the rest of the artists you will find in the NME, TNPS are not arrogant, not boisterous and produce music that is 99.99% original. While The Enemy mention for the umpteenth time how much of an influence bands like Oasis were on their music, and bemoan the lack of “working class” music, TNPS sit inside listening to Steve Reich and watching David Lynch movies. The results are clearly different between the two bands, while The Enemy produce second rate, football terrace pseudo-anthems, TNPS forge unique and abstractly structured masterpieces.

TNPS grab influences from everywhere; Jack Barnett even admits that the infectious drumbeat on “Swords of Truth” is ripped of Timbaland and Vybz Cartel. Hip-hop influences are clear on the pulsating “Numerology” and there are some moments where Jack Barnett’s voice resembles that of Mark E. Smith of The Fall. On “Numerology” the band create an almost hip-hop-rock track, with the structure of the track a perspicuous nod to the hip-hop genre. A hard-hitting guitar riff replaces an electronic sample and Jack Barnett’s chanting of “What’s your favourite number? What does it mean?” replaces what could’ve easily been a rap. Latest single “Elvis” is resonant of The Fall, but TNPS seem to adopt this style and construct perhaps their only song capable of fitting in with the mainstream. TNPS vast knowledge of music is clear throughout Beat Pyramid and the band appear to have to the priceless ability of being able to fuse different aspects of musical genres together to devise tracks that almost create their own genre.

Beat Pyramid has allowed the blindingly astute musicians of TNPS to expand further on their ideas. Now Pluvial was a definite achievement, but with Beat Pyramid a masterpiece has been created with TNPS blatantly having access to better recording facilities than those used to record Now Pluvial and early demos. The intricacy of Beat Pyramid is most evident on Barnett’s preferred track “Swords of Truth”. The chorus of which is a beautifully chaotic layering of vocals and drilling guitar combined with syncopated keyboards. The complex entanglement of the instruments on “Swords of Truth” gives the track a unique and hypnotic aura. This hypnotic atmosphere is also present throughout the entirety of Beat Pyramid, mainly due to TNPS’ repetition of lyrics and parts of music, the lines “We wrote all the numbers in your body” and “I am in the rain, I am in the rain” that appear of “Swords of Truth” will be known to hardcore TNPS fans to have appeared on the original version of “C16th”. The 45 seconds on “Colours” taken from “Navigate, Navigate” and the opening and closing tracks of “…ce I Will Say This Twice” and “I Will Say This Twi…” add to this circular feeling on Beat Pyramid that Jack Barnett is questioned about in every single interview he does. This is another one of the aspects of Beat Pyramid that makes the record such a unique and enticing one.

Lyrically, TNPS are a breath of fresh air. For 35 minutes, no stories of the morning commute to work, no tales of all-nighters in Northern city centres, essentially TNPS are not trying to turn the mundane activities of a 9-5 life into 3 minute pop-rock hits. TNPS lyrics are distinctly abstract and these metaphysical lyrics are most apparent on “Swords of Truth” and “Infinity ytinifnI”. “Swords of Truth” focuses on the rituals of inscribing indecipherable codes in the air, “I’m writing on the airwaves, I’m writing on the air, I’m writing on your memory.” And the track’s immediacy does make you feel like its writing on your memory and takes you to another world where all this could really be possible. “Infinity ytinifnI” is “an imagined celebration of the melting of the polar ice caps. TNPs descend from a helicopter, melting the icecaps and cause global disaster. Then we fly off to Everest and safety and start our own civilization,” to put it in the words of Jack Barnett. The track’s medieval-esque chords and loud driving drums create an ominous atmosphere that fit the conceptual lyrics perfectly.

The fact of the matter is that Beat Pyramid is a masterpiece. The intricate song structures, the infectious drumbeats and fresh abstract lyrics, all contribute to make the record as a whole a true musical behemoth. The other day, a misguided individual said about Beat Pyramid, “it’s nothing I haven’t heard before.” Well, this person must be living a parallel universe where These New Puritans have hit the mainstream, that universe must therefore be a utopia.

Mp3: Elvis

Mp3: Swords of Truth

Mp3: Numerology

Mp3: Infinity ytinifnI

Buy From PureGroove

P.S Sorry for the sendspace linkage, I’m currently waiting for Boxstr to get back up and running and to start an account with them so you can right click and DL the mp3s.