Puritans offer a beguiling twist on guitar-bass-drum combo on Swerving Lines

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      Swerving Lines (Pizza/Pop)

      Protestants first banded to-gether as Puritans in the 16th century as a strict and joyless bunch of dissenters looking to purify the church. Postpunk trio Puritans follows a different kind of doctrine, one that’s been developed in skid bars and DIY squats over the last 40 years via brooding baritone vocals and fuzz-filthy distortion. Both will find their followers, though the musical Puritans’ new Swerving Lines EP is easier to swallow than a life of moralistic servitude.

      “Self Control” begins with a wash of effect-soaked feedback, a propulsive thud, and a maple-sticky bass groove, the band’s death-rock feel accentuated by bleakly growled lines like “bodies push, bodies fall” and verbal images of burning gardens. A melancholy discordance takes over the midsection, but Puritans takes the piece towards an interesting finale with a posi-vibes-smooched change into a major key. “Helping Hands” finds bassist-vocalist Cameron Davenport smoothing out his singing voice, using a beguilingly caustic croon to ask someone to “softly constrict me with your helping hands”.

      Though the EP is generally surging with the kind of guitar-bass-drum tension exemplified by Southern Death Cult or local creepers Spectres, crystal-coated keyboard work takes the lead on melodic highlight “This Weight”. We’re blessed for the change-up. A different kind of Puritan might not have been as bold about working off-script.