These New Puritans display their diverse blend of aggressive and mellow electro at Gorilla.
“This song is 500 years old” – not the way most bands would introduce their best track, but then These New Puritans are not like most bands. The song being introduced here, their biggest hit, is called ‘Attack Music’. It is well known that These New Puritans are pioneers of an edgy, almost anti-chart sound. Their performance at Manchester’s Gorilla, which combines the serenely compelling with sections of tense aggression, reaffirms this.
Lead singer Jack Barnett and his band walk out onto the stage after two minutes of droning bass, accompanied by the sound of passing cars and flashing white lights. This is about as sonically predictable as These New Puritans get all night. They then launch into songs off their new album, Field of Reeds. The first was ‘Spiral’ which showcases the adept capabilities of the musicians. The pair of brass players brought a rousing intro into a tense but expansive melodic play between Barnett and his female vocal partner.
The next song, ‘Fragment Two’, is a single that contains at its core a simple piano loop, but Barnett’s deep, hypnotic voice led a euphoric progression that added complexity to the backing. The only issue being that his voice is a little too quiet, so it sounds whiny at points and is drowned out by the band.
This ceases to matter during the middle of the gig, as music from earlier albums brings an angry, electronic edge to proceedings. ‘We Want War’ is bass and snare heavy, with repetitive vocals and shrieking violins. The crowd opt to remain stoically entranced, rather than dance manically.
These New Puritans purvey fine-tuned alternations between chilled-out and manic sounds, and this combination works due to the cerebral intensity of the music. Their sound has become more complete on their latest album which has added flavour to their live performance – its melodic, almost classical sound compliments the rawer but more electronic earlier albums.
The encore is chilled out with no easy sing-alongs for the crowd, but the lack of familiar hooks doesn’t change the fact that this was a gig well worth going to.