These New Puritans


Can’t lie kids, this is going to be pretty gushing. What unfolds tonight in Yes is by far the best thing I’ve seen so far this year, it’s all the words like ‘astonishing’, ‘scintillating’, ‘fucking unbelievable’, those kind of descriptors. Because TNP are by far and away the best band in the country, and tonight they absolutely cement that and then some, playing one of the most thrilling sets I’ve seen in a long time. Twin brothers George and Jack Barnett (newly shorn of band mate Thomas Hein who left to do a PHD) recreate songs from their brilliant new album Inside The Rose and from the best album of 2010 Hidden in such an extraordinary way that I can’t help but pepper this review with all the superlatives and grin like an idiot when I think back on it.

I could tell you about the opening, all dry ice, sinister synths that sound like they come from a sci-fi horror film, and moody lighting that bathes the stage in dull, murky greens and greys as the band members come on to stage one by one to take their places (George & Jack are joined by a drummer and a multi instrumentalist who plays all sorts all night) to play ‘ARP’. I could tell you how those lights are almost as important as the music throughout the night, how they transform from dramatic reds to soothing blues and greens to twinkling, multicoloured strands of light that join together to create beautiful kaleidoscopes across the roof of the room. I could tell you about the percussion; oh the drums! Pummelling and thunderous throughout, drums Trent Reznor would be proud of, drums that reverberate dramatically through my entire body during songs like ‘Attack Music’, ‘We Want War’ and ‘Into The Fire’. The xylophone glimmering throughout the likes of the gorgeous ‘Where The Trees Are On Fire’, and an actual vibraphone on ‘Infinity Vibraphones’. I could tell you about how Jack Barnett’s vocals, now buttery smooth in their baritone range, basically act like another texture, another element of the music that fits perfectly.

I could tell you about all that, but I mostly just want to tell you how all these things combined to make something extraordinarily special. In a recent interview with Crack magazine (shout out to the best music and culture magazine going) the brothers talk about how Berlin, where the new album was recorded, takes art seriously unlike in the UK where being serious is ‘the ultimate sin’, and that the trick is to take the music seriously, not yourself. And that’s exactly what they do this evening, creating glorious, serious art in music that sounds unlike anything else around right now. The nearest comparison I can give you is Talk Talk via Nine Inch Nails and Depeche Mode, at once astonishingly beautiful and then intensely dark and dramatic. Nowhere is this more starkly demonstrated than the last three songs of their set where the enormous ‘Beyond Black Suns’ with its deafening floor toms giving way to the aforementioned delicacy of ‘Where the Trees…’ and the shimmering, heavenly ‘Six’, both of which could have sat on Laughing Stock or Spirit of Eden.

The title of the Crack piece was ‘Dreaming Forward’, and I can’t think of a better description of TNP and the art they make. A genuinely astonishing evening, if you can get to Hebden Bridge Trades Club on Saturday to see them, sell your grandmother to do so. I’ll probably go again myself.

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