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Music Review: This Town Needs Guns – Animals

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This Town Needs Guns unleashes their debut record armed to the teeth with complex guitar portions, melodic bass, and Stuart Smith’s affecting vocal patterns.

The album, Animals, features songs named after different types of animals. Originally, the idea was to use the animal names as placeholders, but no other titles were decided upon and the placeholders stuck as the actual song names. As such, tracks like “Panda,” “Zebra,” and “Baboon” do little to embody the titular creatures, but they sure do provide terrific listening enjoyment.

I will admit to having spent several hours with Animals, allowing the record time to nibble on my consciousness and chew on the corners of my living room furniture. Its sophistication is unmistakable, giving the attentive listener plenty to work with as each track unfolds. At the same time, This Town Needs Guns has created a wholly accessible, graceful pop record.

There is certain carefulness to the arrangements put forth by This Town Needs Guns, yet the ease with which Smith, guitarist Tim Collis, bassist Dan Adams (Jamie Cooper handles bass from September 2008 onward), and drummer Chris Collis bring the noise is astounding. Tim Collis and Smith entwine their guitars, provoking an experience of tranquility and sonic harmony with their elaborate guitar work. Adams slips his bass gently underneath, joining in the complexity of the arrangements while Chris Collis’ drums do so much more than just keep time.

Genre hounds call this stuff “math rock,” while I simply sit mystified at what these arrangements must look like on paper.

“So here we are again at the start,” sings Smith on “Pig.” The song unfurls like a lavish hearth rug, shifting tempos and busting through scales and notes with fervour. Smith tests the upper ranges of his vocals as the guitars swirl behind him, creating an overwhelming emotional effect.

These Oxford gents lay down intricate framework after intricate framework, introducing us to precarious guitar flow on “Baboon” and lacing up a beautiful brass-led number with “Elk.”

Despite this album’s inborn involvedness and oft-difficult arrangements, the sensibilities of This Town Needs Guns are still aimed frankly towards what is a fairly straightforward pop tune. Each track contains relevant lyrics, striking melodies, and addictive vocals that flow together in a constant rivulet of believability and magnificence.

Animals might give indie kids plenty to hum to, but at its heart it is a pop record with glowing, compound instrumentals. This Town Needs Guns has offered music for the masses. There is a sense of whimsy and a clear sense of wonder deep within this record dying to come out and I can only hope that lovers of great music everywhere give it the chance it deserves.

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About Jordan Richardson

  • Wasn’t this already done once by Pink Floyd?