13 Jan 10
If the innumerable lists of ‘top tips 2010’ and whatnot are to be believed, then this year is going to be more than accommodating to These New Puritans (as it is to pop fops The Drums apparently…guaranteed they’ll be the musical equivalent of a rancid vagrant squatter before the year is out…). However those familiar with Southend-on-Sea’s finest art rock foursome, will no doubt be inquisitive as to why they aren’t already bothering the dizzying heights of musical stardom. What with a refreshingly abstract debut, and a live show which is nothing short of (and I don’t use this word flippantly…) epic, TNPS are already eons ahead of the recycled cast of ”new bands of 2010”. Ellie Goulding and company are lucky they have radio 1 and the ever headstrong NME to pin careers to. TNPS are about to step into a league all their own.
Theatrically timid apprehension opens the album with Time Xone, putting the much discussed 13 piece woodwind and brass ensemble into immediate effect. That isn’t to say that the band have taken the stereotypical Elbow endorsed ”tacking-on-an-orchestra = we’re a bigger band” approach to orchestration, the additional instruments work side by side with the band, so much so that they become integrated into the sound, and less an ”add on”. The swelling confidence, and lulling depression, soothes and calms before triumphantly leading into latest single ”We Want War”, seven minutes of twists, sword unsheathing, and Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon drums. Again the word ”epic” comes to mind…
”Three Thousand” retreads sounds carved on debut ”Beat Pyramid”, appeasing TNPS obsession with hip hop beats and bass. What would have once been the monotone hum of an analogue synth, is now the brassy rumblings of a tuba, once again expanding their sound into even deeper, more sinister waters. Breathless ”aaaah’s” and stumbling harpsichord accompany Jack Barnett’s obsessively emotionless register, creating a soundscape repetitively ritualistic, almost hypnotic. The nasally clunking guitar and aggressive drumming of ”Attack Music” again leans more towards the bands first effort, a punchy, intentionally out of tune ramshackle, that is somehow organised, reaching the peaks of creepiness with the inclusion of a child choir. (Although not as creepy as the child choir schmindie mash-up of the Wombats ‘lets dance to Joy Division’ arf…)
The sinister gloom and darkness is lifted on ”Hologram” and ”White Chords”. If the album as a whole wasn’t justification enough for the bands versatility, these tracks only push that notion further. ”Holograms” wistful piano, laying the bed for heartfelt trumpets and 4/4 drum, shows a restraint, adhering to the less is more approach. The outcome is a life affirming 2:22 of reflection, a sound you would be forgiven for assuming would be out of TNPS comfort zone. Similarly ”White Chords” reaches, choir laden reverb highs previously unseen by the band. Fans of Radiohead will no doubt be able to see the similarity’s between this song, and Yorke and co’s ”Idioteque”, but once again this only shows how rapidly the band are progressing into being something, (widely), accepted as special.
Regardless of chart positioning, airplay, or sales, it is going to take a whole cultural upheaval to artistically create an album of more significance or importance in 2010. Still I’m sure whatever The Drums have got to offer will be just as good….ahem