"If we wanted an easy life, we wouldn't be like this. You wouldn't do this if you were a right-thinking person who wanted to have a good career. You just wouldn't." So said Jack Barnett of These New Puritans in an interview with NME's Louis Pattison about new album 'Field Of Reeds' a couple of weeks ago.
So is it career suicide or genius? While TNP's 'Hidden' won NME's Album Of The Year in 2010, 'Field Of Reeds' has divided opinion in the NME office like nothing else released this year. Why? Well, it's certainly a move in an even more experimental direction. While 'Hidden' ripped your head off with its glacial sonic assault featuring sharpened knives, bashment, subaquatic beats and Taiko drums, 'Field Of Reeds' is way, way quieter. Drums only feature on a couple of tracks, and, while its warm in harmony and melody, there are passages of challenging dissonance.
Me and Mark Beaumont battled it out in the magazine the other day. He thinks it's an "aimless, thrill-free ballet score of a new album" and compared it to "background classical jazz mood music you'd expect to accompany 1940s cartoons of trolls creeping through marshland."
He conceded it would probably go down well in Dalston's wanky art circles but that it "tries so hard to be new and original that it's turned full circle and become antique and derivative".
I wondered what people expect from These New Puritans, a band that stand out because of their progressive, inventive boundary pushing - anyone remember the sound of a crushed skull (created by breaking cream crackers with hammer) on 'Hidden'? - and asked:
Would you rather artists remained static and churned out more of the same? Would you rather Dylan hadn't gone electric or Bowie hadn't worked with Eno on 'Low'? Would you want to eat potatoes over and over again for the rest of your life? Obviously not. Aren't the most exciting artists who who kick down convention and release what they want because they don't give a fuck? That's rock 'n' roll
Anyway, you can make up your own mind by listening to it below. Let us know what you think.