Since electro/dance/rock outfit Shiny Toy Guns first gained worldwide renown with their debut We Are Pilots in 2005, the road has been rocky, to say the least: burnout, imploding relationships, and a rather confusing venture away from their signature sound for their sophomore album. Even the release of their new album III has been plagued by so many false release dates that it is easy to lose count.
Now, finally, the wait is over, and III has officially dropped. And I have to say it is well worth the wait.
Between albums two and III, Shiny Toy Guns have been putting their house in order, including a trip to Sweden to mend fences with departed vocalist Carah Faye. After some continued tweaking and refining in the studio, the end result is an extremely well-crafted album marking an official return to the original 4-member lineup, as well as a return to the electro sound that first defined the band: an 80’s New Wave-influenced electro sound with pop/rock sensibilities, now retooled for the twenty-teens.
One significance difference with the newly-revived band is the songwriting team. During her time in Sweden, Carah Faye found her voice as a songwriter, and now joins Jeremy Dawson and Chad Petree in contributing material for the album—most notably in the opening track “Somewhere To Hide.” Understandably, the band’s interpersonal relationships and the process of restoration informs the lyricism on the record, especially in the track “Carrie,” a male-female dialog relating much of the emotion behind the last few years.
Speaking of emotion—if you’ve never heard STG, don’t make the mistake of stereotyping them as just another club band whose primary goal is to get people on the dance floor. The true beauty of this record is that it drips with emotion and passion; the beat is secondary. This band has been through a lot together, and they let it come out in the music with sonic brilliance, lush arrangements, and of course danceable beats.
Oddly enough, one of the most memorable tracks on the record is one that doesn’t sound like anything else. “Speaking Japanese” features a distinct rock edge and Faye delivering the lyrics in sing/speak swagger in the tradition of “Le Disko.” It’s very catchy, and is likely to become an instant crowd favorite at shows. Other standouts for me include the soul-tinged “Fading Listening”, one of the most 80’s-dance sounding tunes on the record, and the hauntingly beautiful “If I Lost You.”
And so, after overcoming more obstacles than most bands face in two decades, Shiny Toy Guns have risen from the rubble to produce a long-awaited album that is destined to become a tour-de-force in their discography. III will easily stand among my top albums of the year.