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Boomkat Product Review:
Quite why the record-buying public failed to respond in a suitably favourable fashion to These New Puritans' debut album remains a mystery to just about everyone who heard it. Beat Pyramid was a thing of uncommon creative ambition and vaulting intelligence - though in hindsight, it probably wasn't the easiest record to throw yourself into. The follow-up, Hidden isn't exactly easy-going either, yet its considerable merits are hard to overlook. The single 'We Want War' set the scene brilliantly with a thunderous fusion of dancehall and avant-garde woodwind arrangements, all unified by an apocalyptic lyrical vision. It's so good it could more or less carry the rest of the album all by itself, but fortunately that's far from necessary. Hidden maintains remarkable levels of quality and experimental vision throughout, calling upon the fresh and highly unusual production and arrangement strategies that involve modern avant-garde composition, choral sequences, Japanese taiko drums and foley-style sound recording (e.g. the drawing of a sword from a sheath, the thrashing of chains and the ominous sound of a watermelon being smashed, as if it were a human head). In addition to ferocious, bass-heavy workouts like 'Fire-Power' and 'Attack Music' (setting Bug-style bashment against a children's choir) you'll encounter plenty of chillingly beautiful moments too, though wherever you cast your ear the dystopian themes remain in place: there's the incredible 'Hologram' and the spine-tingling 'White Chords' offering a more exposed, emotional vulnerability, plus the Steve Reich-influenced ensemble piece '5' which closes the album with incredible grace and drama. With Hidden this band from Southend-On-Sea have released an album that's surely set to be one of 2010's outstanding releases.