Hidden

05.02.10 Words by: Charlie Jones

These New Puritans’ second stab at an album draws little comparison to the first. It is ominous, austere and surprisingly powerful. Falling somewhere between new wave punk and dubstep, ‘Hidden’ marks the decade’s first war cry.

There is barely a guitar in earshot. And while the taut post-punk strings defined ‘Beat Pyramid’, these have been replaced by driving drum loops and orchestral sounds. Time Xone – all brass and bassoons – sounds like the opening sequence of a 1940s film about the Battle of the Somme, shot in black and white over barren war-torn landscapes. The arrival of We Want War fast forwards to modern day urban warfare. Grime strings within a stormy backdrop conjure something sinister but really fucking enticing. Reminds me of the Justice video for Stress. Shocking but difficult to take my eyes off. The same applies to my ears with We Want War.

In Three – Thousand, unfettered (yet controlled) drums over the deepest bottom line imaginable create a sense of grandeur that didn’t exist in TNP before. Jack Barnett’s voice chats like Chris Dillford from Squeeze over a synthetic harpsichord and Orion sounds like the sort of choral singing reserved for the trailer for a Blockbuster action movie until it breaks down into rhythmic drums. Attack Music offers more punchy beats, a thick, thick bass line and a bassoon solo that offers something that (to my recollection) has never been done before.

Gareth Jones produced Wire, John Foxx and Depeche Mode, also produced ‘Beat Pyramid’ and a subtle blend of the three can be heard on that record. However, the man behind ‘Hidden’ is Graham Sutton, also the driving force behind Bark Psychosis and the seminal album ‘Hex’. Although the tracks on ‘Hidden’ are not as drawn out as Bark Psychosis’, they do share a similar sense of completion and finality. Joining the dots, TNP’s drastic switch in stylistic approach can no doubt be attributed, in part, to Sutton and his experimental influence.

Like Liars before them, TNP’s second album represents their progression from teenage angst to something more profound and potent; something not always reflected within Jack Barnett’s vocals. It represents the taming of something feral but is nonetheless forceful – surely a sign of great things to follow.

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