Since debuting with the distressed post-punk of 2008's Beat Pyramid, These New Puritans have made a tradition out of reinvention, approaching composition from surprising new angles and channeling their innate sense of drama into each new evolution. The project of twin brothers Jack and George Barnett, the group were still in their teens when they began releasing music, yet they effused ambition and taste well beyond their years. That ambition remains in play on Inside the Rose, the band's fourth full-length release. As with its predecessor, 2013's symphonic Field of Reeds, Inside the Rose is high on grandeur, contains no guitars, and barely resembles a rock album in any traditional sense. While that album was based in a largely organic neoclassical world of chamber ensembles, voices, pianos, and percussion, the nine tracks featured here fuse an array of synthetic tones and treatments to their acoustic brethren, coming off like an intriguing hybrid of late-period Scott Walker and the Blue Nile. Meticulously arranged and artistically challenging, songs like "Beyond Black Suns" and "Where the Trees Are on Fire" manage to convey a sense of icy beauty mixed with nervy menace. Under Jack's austere vocals and lush synths, George's intricate drum parts occasional leap out with anxious distorted fills, toying with the emotions on tracks like "A-R-P" and the title cut. In addition to employing the European orchestral collective s t a r g a z e, a host of other interesting guests join the Barnetts including former full-time bandmate Thomas Hein, Current 93 mastermind David Tibet, Taiwanese producer Scintii, and Portuguese jazz singer Elisa Rodrigues, who was also a prominent fixture of their last release. Over a decade into their career, These New Puritans continue to defy expectation or category, making a significant event out of each release.
AllMusic Review by Timothy Monger