It’s been 10 years since Southend-On-Sea experimentalists These New Puritans released their acclaimed art-rock album ‘Beat Pyramid’, but don’t expect them to perform it in full at a cash-in gig, as many of their contemporaries are wont to do. Now a duo compromised of brothers Jack and George Barnet, the Puritans have been holed up in Berlin, little seen since the release 0f 2013’s divisive, banger-less ‘Field of Reeds’. Asked what they like about Berlin, they recently told The Fader: “The strange thing about Berlin, a city with so much history, is its inhabitants’ complete lack of preoccupation with the past. They’re more concerned with ‘now’. The same, of course, could be said about the Barnetts.
‘Into The Fire’, the first material These New Puritans have released in five years, taken from their upcoming fourth record, is yet another left turn from a group who’ve taken so many left turns they should be dizzy by now. Notoriously tricky to interview, the duo have recently upped their game, with George promising in that Fader interview that “the next album is a banger. Both brutal and beautiful, a record of extremes.” Well, ‘Into The Fire’ is anything but a banger, though we know by now not to take anything that These New Puritans do or say at face value.
True, the beat that kicks at the 30-second mark (preceded by spooky keys and a choral choir) is both propulsive and arresting, but it’s also scattershot and lopsided, and indication of their less than commercial sensibilities. Those keys are pristine, shimmering, perfectly formed – Jack is a self-confessed perfectionist; hence the five-year silence. A scythe-like synth swooshes, menacingly, in the background, before Jack whispers: “He sang like roses of the fire within… Open your heart / Scatter the skies.” Well, the lads aren’t giving Dua Lipa a run for her money…
But of course that’s not the intention, and never has been. These New Puritans emerged in the time of Razorlight and, bizarrely, benefited from being lumped in with the guitars bands of the late noughties. They’re a Trojan Horse, taking a torch to expectations since 2008. ‘Into The Fire’ is much more commercial offering than anything on ‘Field of Reeds’, but remains unashamedly eccentric (for the love of God, don’t stick it on at the next house party you attend). This is the sound of two musicians following their own path, unconcerned with which Spotify playlist they wind up gracing. 10 years since they tricked us into thinking they were an indie band, that’s pretty cool.