This almost didn’t happen. Oxford’s TTNG (the artists formerly known as This Town Needs Guns) have been through some stresses and strains since their last album and the shifting line-up here shows it. A guitarist and singer are out and former Pennines frontman Henry Tremain is in. Oh, and the whole shebang could have been shut down by the Mayan time reset that the album title represents too. But the band, now a trio with more power than that apocalyptic prediction ever really had, have bounced back big.
Some disagree. The general vibe since ‘188.8.131.52.0’ did happen is measured respect, that it’s nice, musically impressive, but no big deal. For me, that’s kinda how TTNG used to be. A little style over substance. But here things seem stripped back, not simpler, definitely not, but easier. There are just as many mathy flourishes and lush melodies as before but the band sound less rushed, less like they’re packing the rhythms in and more like they’re letting these great ideas loose, free. And sometimes they become brilliant, fully fledged songs.
Opener ‘Cat Fantastic’ is packed with vibrant, hypnotic quality, the warm sweetness of ‘I’ll Take the Minute Snake’ will bug the shit out of the guys in Foals for sounding like stuff on their newie, but better, and folks everywhere would be flipping their lid if Radiohead had written ‘Pygmy Polygamy’. And the production is excellent, picking out each plucked note and cymbal hit and complimenting the band’s slightly slower pace perfectly. Tremain too is in top form, sounding like he’s always been here, sounding like he belongs. End of the world be damned then, this seems like just the beginning.