Sunday, January 13, 2013

Album Review: This Town Needs Guns -

Album Rating: A-
This Town Needs Guns are releasing their newest outing at the perfect time. The math-rock group's latest release is named after the Mayan prophesies, and comes from the civilization's idea of the world truly beginning once 13 b’ak’tuns (periods of time containing 144,000 days each) have been completed. What great timing, too, because this concept is where the infamous Mayan prophesies of 2012 came from. comes out right on the heels of the debacle, and intentional or not, the inherent connection gives This Town Needs Guns' latest record a more meaningful context.

The most important aspect of this album's Mayan background, though, is the idea of rebirth. Regardless of what the truth is behind the b'ak'tuns, it's undeniable that the end of every period of time calls for renewed spirits. This is the most important lesson from the prophesies, the pressing point This Town Needs Guns wants its listeners to consider: fresh starts are always possible. The group should know this truth particularly well, considering its numerous lineup changes over the last couple of years. The band has even changed vocalists, now running with Pennines' Henry Tremain. It's no surprise This Town Needs Guns is aiming for a fresh start when considering all the adjustments the group has undergone. is a massive change to the Oxfordian musicians' formula, too, although it doesn't initially come across that way. Upon first listen, the band's latest installment feels like a natural continuation of This Town Needs Guns' sound. Opening track "Cat Fantastic" doesn't quite feel as anthemic as it becomes with future spins; similarly, the subdued outro of highlight track "I'll Take the Minute Snake" is easier to appreciate with an understanding of the track's structure. Many of's most powerful moments require patience, and listeners expecting Animals' immediacy will likely be disappointed at first.

Eventually, though, it's much easier to appreciate the more subdued nature of this album. is powerful because it doesn't try to be; its power is in tow from the get-go. It's easy to miss the infectious subtleties here, but listeners with an open mind will find an album just as rewarding as all hoped it would be. Much of this has to do with the album's pacing, too. Animals' 15 tracks seems excessive when considering that this album has only eight full-fledged songs. While Animals was more a collection of good-to-great tracks from which the listener could pick favorites, is a more concise and cohesive journey than its predecessor.

Has This Town Needs Guns changed in the way their latest concept implies? The group hasn't changed identities entirely but rather expanded their approach to math-rock, emphasizing melody over instrumental proficiency. is packed to the brim with more memorable guitar hooks and vocal melodies than the group's fans are accustomed to, and the addition of Henry Tremain plays a large part in this change. The newcomer's singing fills Stuart Smith's shoes rather nicely, all while bringing a new energy to the table. It's an energy that's more personal this time around, too: Tremain's singing adds a distinctly emotional touch to the mix. This Town Needs Guns is known for imbuing emotion into tracks with fairly mechanistic time signatures, and this recent addition suits the group well. The funny thing about the group's lineup changes, though, is that the newfound changes aren't the huge change everyone predicted them to be. is still This Town Needs Guns as we met them a few years back, albeit with an affinity for conciseness. It doesn't seem the Internet's favorite math-rock collective even needs a new year for a fresh start, because the group has been building towards this release its entire career.

1. Cat Fantastic
2. Havoc In the Forum
3. Left Aligned
4. In the Branches of Yggdrasil
5. I'll Take the Minute Snake
6. 2 Birds, 1 Stone And An Empty Stomach
7. Nice Riff, Clichard
8. Triptych
9. Pygmy Polygamy
10. A Different Kind Of Tall (small)
11. +3 Awesomeness Repels Water

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1 comment:

  1. This review was a blast to write. Props to This Town Needs Guns for being such swell musicians.

    Left Aligned:

    I'll Take the Minute Snake: