A new These New Puritans album is always something of an exhilarating prospect. For better or worse, you never quite know what you’re going to get. The only consistent expectation is the unexpected. It’s not just a matter of being experimental. These New Puritans (now back to a two piece) are a band unafraid of evolution.
Inside the Rose, their first album in six years, showcases and embraces this spirit right from the start. Opener “Infinity Vibraphones” pulls you into the group’s world straight away. It’s dark and brooding, yet oddly beautiful. The vocal refrain of “let’s go back to the underworld, let’s go back inside” is an invitation, drawing you naturally into the album as a whole.
This is new wave, but in the loosest possible way. It’s a starting point for understanding the album rather than a pigeon hole. There’s nothing retro about Inside the Rose, it’s an album that feels deeply contemporary. There’s no playing it safe here, it’s all about pushing the boundaries, both conceptually and musically. A dream motif runs through the album, quite deliberately. The album’s adventurous spirit is summed up by a phrase George used as a touchstone throughout recording: “Why dream backwards when you can dream forwards?” And there’s a definite dream-like quality that runs through the album. It’s slightly surreal without being consciously weird, jumping from mood to mood in a way that feels organic.
At times it can feel formidable. Inside the Rose isn’t an album that allows you to get comfortable. It’s too immense, too ambitious for that. It’s exciting, but it almost breathless in its scope. As fits the dream theme, you’re simply never quite sure where These New Puritans are going to go next.
As well as lyrically, the album manages to evoke this theme musically. While there’s the more obvious new wave and electronic influences it doesn’t stop there. Inside the Rose draws on classical influences and even some opera to create something quite special.
Release: 22nd March 2019, Infectious Records