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REVIEW: This Town Needs Guns – Animals (Big Scary Monsters 2008)

Animals

This Town Needs Guns are an Oxford based outfit formed by Stuart Smith and Tim Collis in 2004. Several band members and a few moderately successful E.P.s later they are still touring the world over and in 2008 released their debut full album, Animals. This album brings you 13 (well 12½) tracks of their unashamedly experimental math rock. Not always an easy genre to listen to but interesting none the less. The album’s tracks are all named after different animals but this has very little bearing on the content of the lyrics. While they were writing the album they named all their tracks after animals as temporary placeholders with every intention of giving them real names before release but in the end they just did not bother. Anyway on to the album itself…

One of the first things you notice about this album is that the band appears to have mislaid their distortion pedals. This leaves the music very stripped back – you might even say pure – which is astonishing when you realise how much is actually going on with the guitars and the huge amount of notes that they cram into each track. The meandering guitar parts dance around the fretboards throughout the whole album, which is fine until it begins to feel that you have been just listening to one long track rather than 13 different ones.  The only let up in this never ending barrage is the final track, Zebra, which replaces the now tiresome guitar with what sounds like a Glockenspiel and some discordant strings. The string parts feel like they have been carried on from the previous track, Rabbit, as the guitar fades away towards the end of this track and leaves the strings alone – it has a definite reminiscence of Damien Rice. This is by no means a bad thing but is all unfortunately too little to late to rescue the album from becoming awfully samey.