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These New Puritans

There is no shortage of young British bands applying a commercial sheen to the angular rhythms of art-rock. Erol Alkan's Club Durrr at the End has established itself as a showcase for such emerging talent, and its latest act, cryptic quartet These New Puritans
This article is about the literary movement. For the movement, see New Puritans (movement)

The New Puritans was a literary movement ascribed to the contributors to a 2000 anthology of short stories entitled All Hail the New Puritans
, shows every sign of becoming something very special indeed.

These Southend tyros take inspiration - and their name - from the most gnarled gnarled  
1. Having gnarls; knotty or misshapen: gnarled branches.

2. Morose or peevish; crabbed.

 and addictive of all post-punk survivors, the Fall, but their recent debut album, Beat Pyramid, implies they are far more likely to penetrate the mainstream. Like Franz Ferdinand, they sugar the pill of their abrasive art-pop with gorgeous tumbling melodies that have had Jo Whiley and Zane Lowe salivating, which means that significant chart action is only a matter of time.

The fashionistas adore them and it is easy to see why. Lanky singer Jack Barnett, who tonight appears to have come as a giant silver bird, and his twin brother drummer George supplied the soundtrack for Hedi Slimane's 2007 catwalk show for Dior Homme, while bassist Thomas Hein is aloof inside his isosceles haircut and button-down shirt. Keyboardist Sophie Sleigh-Johnson, a worthy successor to Sparks' Ron Mael, plants herself stage right and does not move a facial muscle facial muscle
Any of the numerous muscles supplied by the facial nerve and that attach to and move the skin. Also called muscle of facial expression.
 for the length of the entire (short) set.

Barnett is a calculating yet compelling front man, a wild-eyed ingenue in·gé·nue also in·ge·nue  
1. A naive, innocent girl or young woman.

a. The role of an ingénue in a dramatic production.

b. An actress playing such a role.
 with the winning faux-naivety of David Byrne in early Talking Heads. He is best barking terse, epigrammatic ep·i·gram·mat·ic   also ep·i·gram·mat·i·cal
1. Of or having the nature of an epigram.

2. Containing or given to the use of epigrams.
 slogans over These New Puritans' stop-start musical spasms and flying shards of guitar shrapnel: Numerology numerology

Use of numbers to interpret a person's character or divine the future. It is based on the assertion by Pythagoras that all things can be expressed in numerical terms because they are ultimately reducible to numbers.
 (AKA Numbers) finds him rhetorically interrogating the crowd ("What's your favourite number? What does it mean?") in the manner of a man who is both delighted and flabbergasted flab·ber·gast  
tr.v. flab·ber·gast·ed, flab·ber·gast·ing, flab·ber·gasts
To cause to be overcome with astonishment; astound. See Synonyms at surprise.

[Origin unknown.
 by the words falling out of his mouth.

The music is all guitar-and-keyboard short-arm jabs and staccato, constantly readjusting rhythms, yet the thrill quotient goes up a notch when a killer tune emerges from These New Puritans' sonic collage. The overwrought o·ver·wrought  
1. Excessively nervous or excited; agitated.

2. Extremely elaborate or ornate; overdone: overwrought prose style.
 electro-throb of debut single Elvis excites despite its musical proximity to the Fall's Big New Prinz. But Barnett is too canny an operator to be a mere copyist, as illustrated by the beguiling sprung rhythms of the closing En Papier. A hugely promising start: greatness may await.

· At the Crescent, York, tonight. Box office: 01904 622510. Then touring.
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Date:Feb 13, 2008
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