What they've been cooking up in a former Soviet broadcasting studio in wasteland Berlin
“We always joked about doing a Barnett Institute,” says Jack Barnett. “First of all we sit down and meditate for twelve hours. Then we give you a new name and you’re locked in a room with white noise, and we put something over your head. All those techniques.”
Though joking, you suspect he could well be serious. These New Puritans have been many things, but nobody could accuse them of lacking any seriousness about their work. The Barnett institute – that is, the twin brothers Jack and George Barnett – are sat side by side in a converted warehouse space in Tottenham, north London’s formerly industrial topography spilling behind them into the aubergine night skyline. George, the elder twin by one minute and the more straightforwardly confidant of the brothers, apologises for their being a little tired.
‘Inside the Rose’, the fourth album from These New Puritans, is their first studio release in six years, and though they’re enthused to be back on the rehearsal and promotion treadmill, they’re also faintly exhausted. Jack, the group’s visionary in chief, though softly spoken radiates a quiet but total intensity. His sense of humour, when it asserts itself, is Ryvita dry – indeed, George spends most of the interview sat at an angle facing his brother, his face oscillating between wry bafflement and genuine curiosity at Jack’s utterances. They edit each other’s sentences, bicker slightly and share gargantuan silences in the way that only siblings do.
I put to the brothers that ‘Inside the Rose’ marks something of a consolidation of the band’s previous experiments; making more concise – more pop, even – many of the ideas on their previous three records. George nods, explaining that he found the album to be “a culmination of a lot of the things we’ve learnt”.
“Every time you start a new record,” he adds, “you realise how ignorant you were and how foolish you were at the start.”
By the time that touring for their last record – 2013’s ‘Field of Reeds’ – had wound down, the brothers were itching to perform another of their creative volte faces. “We’re never consciously turning in a different direction,” says George, “but by the end of an album we just kind of massively want to turn in a different direction. It’s an impulse that we both have.” Some shows were scheduled in 2015, then mysteriously pulled. “We just thought, let’s go away and make a record,” says Jack by way of explanation.