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This Town Needs Guns: 13.0.0.0.0.

Reviewed By: Paul Waller
Label: Sargent House
Format: CD

With a gap between albums of just over four years, Oxford's This Town Needs Guns, or as they are now known TTNG, truly needed to recapture people’s attention spans with this their sophomore album. The group built intricate noise from guitarist Tim Collins' playful picking style and it was perfect for injecting fresh life into the math rock genre. This can be heard on the band’s debut record 'Animals', a delicate thing of clinical beauty and lofty ideas that still today puts it American predecessors’ such as Make Believe and Owls to shame.

It’s follow up '13.0.0.0.0' (named after the Mayan calendars long countdown to doomsday) is a different animal (heh-hem) all together. The technical prowess is still there as clearly heard on opener 'Cat Fantastic', 'Triptych' and 'Left Aligned', but the songs are polished to within an inch of their lives and after many listens still have this impenetrable sheen to them that just won’t let go. New singer Henry Tremain doesn’t help things either; his voice may be light and pitch perfect but it tends to wash over the song rather than add any depth to them. His vocals are as clinically precise as the guitar playing but it lacks soul whereas previous singer Stuart Smith gave it his all and leant the band an edge on older tracks such as 'Chinchila' and 'Pig'.

It’s not all shiny and bland though. The instrumental tracks are this album's life line. On 'Nice Riff', Clichard’s electronic beats and simpler guitar motif create a wonderful atmosphere; it’s the best thing on the record. Elsewhere the title track and 'Pigmy Polygamy' are well crafted and forward thinking pieces; the intricate guitar picking is as delicious as ever and here the crystal clear production is necessary as you want to hear every acute detail. So it would seem the band have come unstuck a little with '13.0.0.0.0'. But when you release a debut as strong as 'Animals' was then it was obvious to all that following it would be a mighty tall order.



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