TTNG - 126.96.36.199.0
Record Label: Sargent House
Release Date: January 22, 2013
Back when AP.net opened its doors in the late 80's, things were different. You could smoke anywhere, even in California! We communicated via group carrier pigeons instead of gmail (nailed it!) Adrian Villagomez was only 3 years old. But the one thing that has never changed (other than the haircuts) is this sort of unspoken challenge between staff members to "break" a band. Just so later, we can be like, "I made you!" while begging said band for a couple hits of drug X in the back of a tricked-out Tahoe. The various times I've tried this, I've failed. Back in 2008, I tried with TTNG and their Animals album, because it was math rock for pop-rockers. Lilting, high-pitched vocals, googly guitar parts and all those cute little animals! What could go wrong?
I don't know, but nobody really cared, which is not the band's fault or even mine; it's just timing. Because now with their new (very similar) singer, new name and new album, shamefully loosely-based on the Mayan Apocalypse, 188.8.131.52.0, the band seem to be everywhere. Well, everywhere in a very small, very focused area of the Internet. But still. People were jazzed on this new record, and rightfully so. 12 songs, ranging in topic from this here music scene to the death of a dear friend, have set this British group on a path poised for a very specific type of success.
Which is basically this: fans of bigger math-rock bands and even math-rock-ish bands (anywhere from Ghosts & Vodka to various Minus The Bear albums) now have a new place to look when wanting to blend the noodly with the catchy. All over the place, on tracks like "Left Aligned" and "Cat Fantastic" and "I'll Take The Minute Snake," TTNG seem to subdue all the challenging time signatures and weaving guitars to make something that we can play for even the daftest heathens. Hell, even the instrumental segways are un-skippable (especially the sleepmakeswaves-esque "In The Branches of Yggdrasil"). You could probably tap your toe if it wouldn't make your head hurt so much.
Henry Tremain does a fine job replacing the ever-inventive Stuart Smith on vocals. His lyrics aren't that much fun to sing, but they're nice to read. "2 Birds, 1 Stone And An Empty Stomach" has an acoustic riff stolen from an Owen song, but when Tremain sings, "In time you will forget your memories / Who are you?," it just gets you because it scares you. There's an effortless realism in Tremain's words, like when he describes a friend's funeral: "Our friends all dressed so smartly / This feels ugly, so wrong." It's how he picks the little details that make you know he's obsessed and obsessed over these situations. Once you've thought about everything else, it's the little things that keep the memories real.
If this stacks up to Animals, who cares. And I don't know if this is truly their moment in the emo-soaked sun. But I guess what I realized in the years since I started doing this, is that yes, I want other people to find bands they love. But music is and always will be personal, and TTNG are certainly a band that continue to shape the way I view music. And at this moment, in this place, they are the biggest band in the world. To me.
Recommended If You Like: American Football, Cats and Cats and Cats, Minus The Bear, Owls
Fantastic album. Animals has reserved a place in my heart as not only one of my favorite records, but also one that stands out in the genre...it's hard to find technical math rock with a traditionally GREAT vocalist. But somehow they've managed to find two of those, and that alone is pretty awesome.
P.S. Your reviews are probably the most well-written, entertaining, and meaningful on this site.