Recording information: Electrical Audio.
The band formerly known as This Town Needs Guns first came together in Oxford, England in the mid-aughts, and the bandmembers were poking fun at the city's low crime rate when they named the group. Frustrated with years of having the name mistaken as literal sentiment, but wanting continuity, they abbreviated the handle to TTNG for their third LP, Disappointment Island. The album also features a streamlined lineup of singer/guitarist Henry Tremain, lead guitarist Tim Collis, and drummer Chris Collis, their first as a trio. What hasn't changed is the group's marrying of intricate instrument parts with a '90s slacker vibe. Shifting time signatures and interlocking rhythms that join guitar, bass, and drums are established from the opening moments of "Coconut Crab." With a melodic but conversational delivery, Tremain suggests "Just simply paraphrase all that you're feeling into tiny bite-sized bits/Squeeze them tight so they might fit." With more than one or two music terms in the lyrics, he could well be talking about the song's arrangements, where drums are brisk and syncopated, and oscillating guitar fills in gaps ("It's not that easy, you must admit"). Things get nerdier on "Bliss Quest" and "Destroy the Tabernacle!" with their focus on marking time and instrumental breaks. In contrast, on tracks like "Consoling Ghosts" and "Whatever, Whenever," hectic rhythms take a back seat to the singer's falsetto and the songs' overall melancholic tone. Still, arrangements are rarely sparse -- at least not for long. Neither the album as a whole nor the rebranding represents a significant turning point for the band, so Disappointment Island is very likely to please fans. Its sturdy set should also prove a worthwhile find for those interested in offshoots of math rock, or a kind of controlled virtuosity suited for rainy-day instrument workouts. ~ Marcy Donelson