Review Summary: Highlighted by a virtuoso lead guitarist, This Town Needs Guns releases a largely impressive debut that is slightly marred by one single flaw.
Those who haven’t heard This Town Needs Guns, a math rock band with indie subtleties, are in for a real treat. Their debut album, Animals
, is an impressive, stylistic effort that has plenty of technical ability coupled with strong melodies and heartfelt vocals, and the combination of mathy time signatures with a strong indie sound is really unique and one-of-a-kind.
What you’re bound to notice right away about Animals
is the blistering guitar lines: the swirling melodies and busy lead lines of the guitar is the bread and butter of the album, as every song on the album features a plethora of speedy guitar taps, picks and sweeps. The singer’s melancholy voice perfectly compliments the melodic underpinnings of the guitar parts, while the drums and bass try to anchor the ever-changing time signatures. There are plenty of unique elements housed within every song’s sound to make them interesting, and there’s always something to hang onto for every song, whether it be a cool guitar line, a catchy vocal line or an unusual string of time changes.
As a whole, Animals
features a collection of incredibly strong songs. “Chinchilla” “Panda” and “Pig” are more upbeat songs that have a strong drive through-out, while “Baboon”, “Badger” and “Rabbit” are more mid-tempo and rely on their enveloping melodic settings. “Lemur” and “Dog” are kind of mixture of the two previous approaches, featuring busier drums but more melodic guitar, bass and vocals, while “Crocodile”, “Elk” and “Zebra” are enjoyable, heartfelt breathers that feature much slower tempos. The only real dud on the album comes from “Gibbon”, which I find too meandering, but overall, there is hardly a bad song to be found on the entire album.
But the main problem that many are sure to find with Animals
, however, is the steep listening curve: it will probably take at least a dozen listens before you can decipher and digest the music, thanks to the uninhibited guitar, the frantic time signatures and the overall bittersweet tone of the album. Some people will find the album to be one gigantic, muddled mess that all sounds the same, and I couldn’t really blame them for thinking that, as Animals
isn’t all that accessible. After a few more listens, though, the crazy drumming and guitar noodling sounds coherent, and the sweet-natured indie songs come to grow on you. There are plenty of subtle variations to be found in each song that listeners can pick up on after a handful of listens, but it takes times to notice them, resulting in Animals
to be a chore for some.
is an impressive effort with a unique style and sound. Fans of technical guitar lines, mathy structures and passionate indie vocals will have a lot to sink their teeth into, but just be prepared to be a lot of work into digesting the songs. With plenty of the subtle melodies and progressions that shine through after several hearings, this band is definitely one of the most artistic groups that have come around in a while, and it will be interesting to see how This Town Needs Guns evolve their sound for their upcoming sophomore album.