Release Date: Jan 22, 2013
Record label: Sargent House
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
The world continued after December 21st, 2012 and the non-event that inspired 126.96.36.199.0, the new album from mathematic pop band, This Town Needs Guns, reads like a visual configuration of the band’s off-kilter melodies. In the vein of Minus The Bear or Pinback, This Town Needs Guns (who recently decided to shorten their name to TTNG in response to America’s current issues with gun violence), crafts a very delicate and circularly rhythmic distinctiveness, which is also infused with pop-influenced complexity. As with any airy or overtly accessible indie rock band, it would be understandable to approach an album like 188.8.131.52.0 with the perception that it will be easy to swallow.
This Town Needs Guns13. 0. 0.
Going into 184.108.40.206.0, I was hoping to hear something a little more multi-dimensional than their debut LP, which featured songs that were all named after animals and all sounded pretty much the same to boot. I quite enjoyed some of the dextrous, tapped guitar playing, though, and my issues weren't really with the band's sound, which was quite well-executed, but with the lack of variety and somewhat irksome "emo" vocals which I understand are apropos to the style. As a full-length record, it wasn't really blowing my mind, especially compared to other "math rock" groups that played more interesting music often without vocals (see: Giraffes? Giraffes!, Charles the Osprey).
“TTNG,” you’re likely thinking to yourself, “What does that mean?” It’s not an acronym that elicits an immediate association, nor does it phonetically match any word it refers to. However, the people most likely asking themselves this question are fans of the band This Town Needs Guns, who on the day of the release of their sophomore LP 220.127.116.11.0 announced they “will simply be known as” TTNG. The band cited the recent shootings in the United States—the home of their label, Sargent House—as one of the primary reasons behind the change, as well as the nature of the their hometown, Oxford, UK.
So the twenty-first of December 2012 passed by as innocuously as any other twenty-first of December in recent history. The world didn't end, there were no solar flares, Planet X didn't collide with the Earth, nor did its geomagnetic fields reverse, and the alien colonisation predicted by Chris Carter and the creative team behind The X-Files failed to occur. Which isn't surprising, considering all were complete fiction.
Complicated music can be fascinating. Prog rock of the ’70s begat math rock in the mid-90s emo scene, with pulsing drums and obscure Middle Eastern guitar modes mixing into a composition major’s wet dream. There aren’t many mainstream bands that still practice this genre (maybe early Muse or Battles), but enter TTNG (formerly This Town Needs Guns).
Sadly, a change in band lineup is always going to be at the centre of a review of This Town Needs Guns’ second album, especially as the dearly departed is the lead singer. And even more so as the vocals were one of the standout features of a much-celebrated debut album. So Stuart Smith left to spend time with his family. Yeah, deal with it.