For the record: These New Puritans bring on the pure emotion

Music columnist Meghan LeVota on 'Field of Reeds'

By Meghan LeVota | July 11, 2013

Tags: Music

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I am in love with music, the only thing that never ceases to be there for me in this crazy world. I can’t walk to class, drive anywhere or study without it. I have become addicted to the high that musical emotion brings me -- so addicted in fact, that I become bored with silence. Similar to the druggies who aim to silence their mind, I numb my soul with music.

I find myself -- like many Mizzou students -- swamped with papers to write and midterms to study for, wishing there was a way to silence my overactive brain so I can concentrate. (Unlike most Mizzou students, however, I am a crazy person and am taking 10 credit hours in the summer…) Sadly, some music just isn’t study-effective. I find myself bobbing my head, having to resist the urge to start dancing around Ellis Library. I find my poor vocal cords suppressed, in dire need to be someplace where I can sing along at the top of my lungs without judgment.

There is something to be said for music that can chill you out. Music that you aren’t distracted by -- it's just there in the background, basking in its beauty.

The recent album Field of Reeds by These New Puritans does just that.

Hailing from southern England, these avant-garde musicians combine elements of classical, electronic and psychedelic rock to create art. It is clear that they don’t make music for the purpose of hit-single cash flow, but instead are making music for themselves: the passion they feel, and the emotion they wish to evoke to listeners.

The album begins with the eerie “This Guy’s in Love With You.” Contrary to what the title might suggest, this isn’t your typical love song, full of happiness and sunshine. Instead, it portrays fear of love, an experience many are familiar with. The song begins with gentle, pulsing piano chords -- quite possibly the heartbeat of the song. We hear a distant woman’s voice talk-singing as if through a curtain; we cannot make out most of what she is saying beyond the song’s title, “this guy’s in love with you.”

It is not the words that are important, though. It’s what she’s saying. This song is the story of a girl who is diving into love despite prior hesitations and fear. This transition from fear to love is expressed by These New Puritans' use of musical phrasing; the band juxtaposes hesitant piano chords with the peaceful incorporation of strings and brass. You can infer many things about the singer’s emotions that words could never tell you, as feelings are conveyed more purely through music. This first track does a great job at summing up the entire album for what it is: pure emotion.

“Fragment Two” -- the “single” of the album. This is the song you would recommend to your friends, and the song you would first listen to if you were new to These New Puritans’ dark, experimental style. This song reeks of wonder and curiosity. The up-and-down nature of the piano riff mirrors the fluctuation of life experiences. These New Puritans makes grand statements of universal wonder and presumably some sort of spiritual force with the statement “there is something there, something is there, in between the island where we used to swim.”

Perhaps my favorite song on the album is “V (Island Song).” I hardly consider this track to be a song. This 9-minute composition is more of a work of art than anything else. Again, These New Puritans transition opposing emotions through the use of musical phrasing. This is even more evident in this song, as there are three distinct movements that when listened to separately, you could not tell they were from the same tune. And yet somehow, These New Puritans weave them together seamlessly.

The great thing about Field of Reeds is that all of these emotional interpretations are my own. Instrumentally-driven albums depend more upon passion, creating abstract song meanings that can mean different things to different people. Though the feelings may not be as explicitly emoted as lyrics like “To my homegirls here with the big butt, shaking it like we at a strip club” (cough, Miley, cough), I would argue that pure emotion prevails.

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