• The cover of Field of Reeds

With mid-November approaching, now’s around the time when I start thinking about what I’d pick as my favorite albums of the year. That means one of two things typically happens: I’ll spend some time listening to albums I otherwise missed this past year, or I’ll revisit some of my favorites and realize which ones truly stand out. Of the former, easily the biggest revelation is These New Puritans’ Field of Reeds, which I’m glad I only got to now, since it feels much more appropriate for the gloomier late-fall, early-winter days than it does for early summer, when it was released. TNP is a London-based trio consisting of Thomas Hein and twins Jack and George Barrett. Their music doesn’t fit neatly into any specific genre, but if I had to pick a band they remind me of it would definitely be late-period Talk Talk, the British synth-pop-turned-art-rock band who incorporated everything from postbop jazz to neoclassical music in their virtually uncategorizable final two albums (Spirit of Eden and Laughing Stock). Like Talk Talk, TNP use unusual, classical-leaning instrumentation in pop/rock song structures, but the latter’s music is stiffer and more exacting than the former, who often improvised first and assembled the music into songs and albums afterward. It’s hard to pick a standout from Field of Reeds, since the album mostly feels like one piece of music, but I’m inclined to choose “Organ Eternal,” which appears on the album’s back half. The song mostly consists of a piano, keyboard, and vibraphone playing an identical, spiraling melody, creating a focused, hypnotic pattern. But the band adds little touches and breakdowns that give the song emotional heft and character—including slight squeals of what sound like cats and children—and a string section that adds drama without ever sounding maudlin or over-the-top. Whatever references you can find to link this music to, they’re not easy to spot, and there’s no question that TNP have their own sound, one that is undeniably serious without ever fully succumbing to self-seriousness. Check out the song and its European-art-film-style video below the jump.