Saturday, 2 August 2008

These New Puritans, Beat Pyramid

These New Puritans, Beat Pyramid

Like an agitated teenager adrift from the early 80s, Jack Barnett, the spindly frontman of These New Puritans, has one foot in our digitised urban jungle of tarmac and grime (in the physical and musical senses) and the other in parallel realms of occultist mantras, astrology and mythology. Beat Pyramid, the debut from the malnourished Southend four-piece, is a scatterbrain collection of urgent guitars, drone-fuzz bass, looping textures and wild tangents, veering from danceable post-punk to whirring soundscape interludes, all peppered with an ironic deadpan that makes no bones about its debt to Mark E Smith. The lyrics are both intensely cryptic and laughably banal; a bizarre reference to Michael Barrymore on ‘MKK3’ and the profound emptiness of the repeated “0800, 0800” on ‘Elvis’ place the record in a fantasy galaxy, floating alongside the magickal space-age of Myths Of The Near Future but with its roots in a very British melancholia.

For a debut record it’s an astonishing achievement. An ode to pre-Socratic philosophers on the sparse and fantastically grimy ‘Infinity Ytinifni’ rubs up against the playground punk of ‘Numerology AKA Numbers’ - but it’s obvious that this is a juvenile effort, in the best possible sense. The sheer volume of ideas and influences here could contribute to a truly classic album a few years down the line when they’ve grown out of their ADD mindsets and started drinking grown-up beer. Like when a four year old stops drawing stick-men and progresses to wobbly arms and googly eyes: TNP are way ahead of their peers, but Beat Pyramid ain’t their Mona Lisa. This really is a band that needs to be nurtured properly and not just shoved off the roundabout of indie fame when ‘the new New Puritans’ pop up in about, ooh, three weeks?


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