Killing Puritans

  • Record Label: Armed
  • Release Date: Jun 6, 2000

Generally favorable reviews - based on 9 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 5 out of 9
  2. Negative: 1 out of 9
  1. Van Helden's compositional modus operandi doesn't vary much between the 11 tracks, but it's a combination that rarely fails to deliver a knockout punch. He introduces one element -- a vocal snippet or a jazzy drum break -- and milks it for a spell, before introducing a contrasting timbre. The two begin to climb in and around each other, as Van Helden tweaks and twists various effects, bringing the music and momentum to a dizzy, unsettling pitch.
  2. 80
    And if nothing on Killing Puritans has quite the commercial potential of last year's You Don't Know Me (a UK Number 1), it does have the same cheekily opportunistic spirit, Van Helden's sticky fingers busily probing all kinds of forgotten pop cultural corners.
  3. In drawing on rock, hip hop, electro, drum 'n' bass and early electronic artists, Van Helden mirrors the developments dance acts have been making in the UK and Europe, rather than US artists.
  4. Ultimately, 'Killing Puritans' is well-crafted and commendably diverse, but somewhat joyless and cold. It aspires to social significance without having much serious to say, just as its creator casts himself as a taboo-trashing auteur rather than accept his true status as a skilled artisan in the commercial dance field.
  5. With Killing Puritans, Van Helden means to scramble and then reassemble house music like the Beasties' Paul's Boutique scrambled hip-hop in 1989. Like Paul's Boutique, Puritans initially seems chaotic and arcane, but with repeated dosage it starts to reveal itself as a pugnacious party album.
  6. Harking back to the glory days of late-'80s acid-house, it's heavy on dark club jams that work around a simplistic sample with diva theatrics and rapper freestyles. As such, most of these tracks work much better on the dancefloor than the living room.
  7. 40
    Getting through this album is a challenge. While Van Helden hits the mark on a few occasions, the bulk of Puritans irritates and frustrates as annoying samples create agonizingly long intros to otherwise solid tracks.
  8. Van Helden continues to battle being pigeonholed by throwing disparate musical elements into the mix; unfortunately, the resulting musical tapestry is uneven.
  9. With the exception of only a handful of moments -- most of which are more interesting in theory than in execution -- it's a very bad album, both in its politics and its sound.

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