In the context of the past, this is where I’d place These New Puritans... (Soon-to-be customary disclaimer: I’m not saying any of these influences are deliberate – um, apart from The Fall, that is – just that I’ve been around the block several too many times and can hear elements of all music in all other music, and hence have difficulty sorting same. Understood? Good. Let’s get on with it then). Next time round, we’ll be having a look at something from the past, and placing it in the context of the present.
Three parts Fall
There’s the name, for starters – taken from “Hail the new puritan!/Righteous maelstrom” ‘New Puritan’ lyrics from 1980’s awesome live outing Totale’s Turns – a dead giveaway that some of Mark E Smith’s bile and swagger has crept into this Southend band’s rousing mishmash of post-everything popular culture. Lyrics are sharp, sardonic, dripping with disdain for the conventional and commonplace (in places, numerology and chambers and tunnels). Singer Jack Barnett has confessed to a fondness for eccentric late Seventies English prog rock band Van der Graaf Generator – just the sort of demented, unexpected statement you’d expect Mr E Smith to come out with.
One part Ride
Oh yes, everything these days comes back to Ride and their sweeping wash of watered-down My Bloody Valentine guitars from the turn of the Nineties, right from Chris Martin’s sorry bunch of troubadours through to some of the more opaque textures of No Age and The Vivian Girls, and the semi-bouzouki guitar lines that colour some of These New Puritans’ more reflective moments.
One part Dexys Midnight Runners
You can take this as a given. I hear elements of Kevin Rowland’s inspirational band of vagabonds in everything: it’s the same way some people always think of their dog when out walking; and the same way other people relate everything back to their football team. Where there’s brass there’s Dexys, to bastardise an old saying.
One part Timbaland
That’ll be the sharp beats behind ‘Swords Of Truth’. Honest. As sharp as anything even the mainstream’s canniest producer has conjured in the past three years…well, almost.
One part Steve Reich
That’ll be the big beat-meets-minimalism single ‘Numbers’ (Steve Reich being the minimalist NYC pop composer so beloved by Plan B readers and aspiring Wire intellectuals). It’s all about micro- and macro-patterns, you know.
One part Motörhead
I’m referring specifically to the song ‘fff’ here: heavy and malignant and laden down with precisely the sort of doom-saturated hard rock riffs that were once the sole province of Lemmy and co. No warts yet – far as I know – but I haven’t been looking that closely.
One part Liars
Once again, I’m referring specifically to ‘fff’ – it has the sort of off-kilter lurching atonal beats and rapid changes of pace that made the Brooklyn band’s ‘There’s Always Room On The Broom’ Harry Potter tribute album (however hard they denied it) so startling. Well OK, not just that song, but the lines have become too blurred for objectivity and I want to go back to the start and hear ‘Swords Of Truth’ again…