Tuesday, 15 January 2008

THESE NEW PURITANS: Beat Pyramid

Ripe for a dose of strident, cocky new-rave hip-rock? Then step right this way, ladies and gentlemen. Beat Pyramid is bizarre, enigmatic and too postmodern for its shirt. Hyped indie four-piece These New Puritans, being barrier-breaking types, have today blurred the line between legitimate experimental production and self-indulgent electronic noodling. Not content with that, they go on to challenge the long-held idea that excessive repetition isn’t necessarily a good thing, followed by thoroughly debunking the music industry propaganda that is rhythmic variation.

Take that, fuddy-duddies! Tomorrow the world! It’s a pity that every song is dominated by Jack Barnett’s monotone vocal delivery, reminiscent of Mark Smith drugged up to the eyelids on paranoia juice. If this weren’t so, we could appreciate the occasional interesting instrumental turn, like the first fifteen seconds of Swords Of Truth or the whole of album highlight Infinity Ytinifni. The synthed-up basslines and tribal drums ooze foreboding and menace. But instead Barnett’s deadpan draws your attention to the lyrics, which are nothing other than embarrassing.

“What’s your favourite number? What does it mean?” he raps over the opening of single Numbers and repeats ad nauseum, before launching into a list of numbers and their interpretations. “One: is the individual! Two is duality!” he barks. No, really? You can’t help but feel there’s supposed to be some kind of Pynchonian narrative running through the record. But if so, it doesn’t show itself after several listens. On another track, 4 pounds, the only lyrics are “Four of your pounds!” I can only guess they want me to buy their singles. The album curls deeper and deeper into itself as the tracks progress before swallowing its own tail in a flash of pointlessness as the end of the last track becomes the beginning of the first. These New Puritans could have made a decent dark synth-rock record, but they decided to wallow in pretension instead. An album to be avoided.

Saul Glasman

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