THESE NEW PURITANS – Hidden (2010)

This is the first time I’ve ever listened to These New Puritans, and it may well be the last. I’m all for post-modern assemblage, but this is fucking ridiculous – when you’re dealing in simulacrums, the sum of your parts can be more than the whole (or vice-versa), but you absolutely have to elicit some sort of emotional response with what you’ve created. Otherwise, what’s the point? Why even make music? This is the problem I have with Hidden, These New Puritans’ second album; it seems to have been painstakingly crafted to prevent any sort of meaningful emotional response to it, so remarkably insipid are its components, and so banally have they been fashioned together, like a price-slashed IKEA clearance eyesore that’s one more ding or scratch away from the dumpster. Now, I don’t expect every band that experiments with aural alchemy to push the boundaries like Estradasphere or Mr. Bungle do, but when you take the most pedestrian aspects/trends of modern music, and cram them all together into song after song after song, how could you possibly expect to wind up with gold, and not talc?

Hidden is comprised primarily of big, fat, repetitious hip-hop beats (think 808s and Heartbreaks without any soul whatsoever), plodding, lethargic orchestrations that make elevator muzak seem alive by comparison, and airy, hushed vocals that may as well not even be there. Add to that some dull synth lines and a whole host of uninspired, minor-key melodica, and you’ll have Hidden. Opening track Time Xone doesn’t need to exist; it’s a short orchestral intro that, on a good album, would set the stage for something, but instead, it wastes two minutes of your time. Just as well, though – there’s really not anything to herald here, anyways. The next song, We Want War, is too long two minutes into its seven minute runtime; it’s a coma-inducingly boring song, and there’s still nine more to go. One of these songs, Hologram, drops the minor-key theatrics and borderlines on enjoyable, but it ultimately comes off like Junior Boys b-side. The same goes for Drum Courts – Where Corals Lie, though it feels more like Jóhann Jóhannsson walking into an ESPN teaser between Bowl Games. So pick your poison, because beyond that, These New Puritans don’t seem terribly interested in making music that achieves anything, save for tedium (and loads of it).

I can’t for the life of me figure out why this album is getting the praise that it is (it currently has an 84 on metacritic). But it doesn’t much matter – the music press loves to praise things as “groundbreaking”, even when they’re not, so this isn’t a new thing. Fortunately, I have my copy King Crimson’s THRAK on hand to erase Hidden from my memory. Which, if you’ll excuse me, is something I need to get going on.

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One Response to “THESE NEW PURITANS – Hidden (2010)”

  1. […] works as a lead in to the album as a whole); after what These New Puritans did with their intro on Hidden, it’s nice to know that people still are capable of using that device in a positive manner. […]

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