Review Summary: Each entrance an exit.
Let’s talk about facts. Adventure, Stamina & Anger is a 2011 single released by the Oxford, England math-rock group This Town Needs Guns (now TTNG after a 2013 name change). The single is most notable for being the last TTNG release to feature Stu Smith on vocals. Departing to focus on the age-old, noble task of fatherhood, Stu’s departure was on amicable terms. The cover art features a young boy with a bloody cut above his left eye. With his cocked head, pursed lips, and piercing glare, he seems resilient in the face of pain.
After the minutiae of acquiring this release and soaking in the two song, 8:17 runtime, I’ve been introduced. All it takes is the first few notes to ring out from lead guitarist - and the band’s creative leader - Tim Collis’ guitar and I know what I’m in for. Guitar virtuosity via ultra-melodic tapping along with frantic drums from Tim’s brother Chris keeping the pace provide the backdrop for Stu Smith’s heartfelt vocal performance. Jamie Cooper’s bass work does not go unnoticed either, as he helps bolster the instrumentals with his smooth performance sliding around the neck. The comfortability and tightness of the band is evident, and the pristine production shines a bright spotlight on that.
If I had to choose one word to describe this release, I’d say “bittersweet”. In terms of mood, both tracks here paint a melancholic and reflective portrait. The title track is a love letter of sorts to someone or something with whom great memories and harsh times have been shared. “Mnspector Iorse” at surface level details a conflict between the author and a scientist. I can’t help but delve a little further into the lyrics and see the metaphors and allusions to Stu’s exit from the band. There’s a part in the title track where the drums and bass drop out and Stu takes a step back from the microphone to belt out “Sweat drips from quivered lips and tied tongues forgive what we have done.” He continues to repeat that line, but then, from almost outside of the song, he begins to repeat “I will not forget this moment” as if he’s really savoring it. It's his vocal performance that - despite the amazing guitar work of Tim Collis - really brings this single the emotional depth that makes it truly unique and enjoyable.
On a personal level, I keep thinking about how fitting that my introduction to the band - and really, this subgenre of rock music - is Stu Smith’s swan song. As he enters the cusp of fatherhood, I find myself at a similar crossroads. With a blossoming relationship and the pitfalls of entering adulthood, leaving the days of yore behind has been bittersweet, or as Stu would say, “Each entrance an exit”.