Highlight: Fragment Two, V (Island Song), Organ Eternal, Field Of Reeds
It is wonderful that there is a modern indie band that is ready to treat music as a form of art. These New Puritans do it for those who are ready to invest a little time, effort and patience into their listening experience. Which is not to say that Field Of Reeds is a difficult album. It is not. It’s beautiful and subtly captivating. Just don’t make the mistake of approaching it as a regular pop record.
First thing you hear is minimalist piano, very Satie-like. What follows is a masterful, exquisitely crafted suite of songs and moods. The sounds are often a little jazzy (like I say, pop is in very short supply), the piano can occasionally veer into modern classical territory. Still, amid the classy mannerisms and orchestration (which becomes almost transcendental on “Organ Eternal”), I do welcome an almost unlikely appearance of drums. “V (Island Song)”, with its freakish vocal melody, is as bizarre as it is irresistible. Then there’s a mesmerising Sigur Rós vibe in “Spiral”. And then there’s the choir of the title track that hasn’t yet failed to send shivers down my spine... Chilling, challenging stuff. Gorgeous, too, but with an unmistakable edge constantly lurking nearby.
Field Of Reeds is such a complete work that I will have to forgive the few boring moments that appear now and then. It is easy to write these guys off as way too artsy for their own good, but this is such a wonderful musical experience that I don’t have one cynical thought in my head. Artsy? Let’s just settle for ‘art’. Field Of Reeds is flawed. But it is a flawed triumph.