Review: Disappointment Island - TTNG
TTNG marked the entrance of their new vocalist Henry Tremain with both a name change and a switch to a more groove orientated blend of math rock. The resulting album, 188.8.131.52.0 was an excellent introduction for the former Penines singer, and a solid addition to the TTNG discography.
Disappointment Island then, comes with mixed expectations as to whether TTNG would continue with the new sound they developed in 184.108.40.206.0 or return to something more akin to their earlier releases. The result is actually neither here nor there, but more an amalgamation of everything the band has put out previously, with a little bit extra.
Opening track Coconut Crab is quite a danceable one that wouldn’t sound out of place on their self titled EP. One of the more uptempo tracks, it’s classic TTNG in that it’s both entertaining musically and melancholic lyrically. The even more pacy second track A Chase Of Sorts comes and goes pretty quick without leaving much of an impression, perhaps due to it’s briefness. Destroy The Tabernacle! is another particularly energetic track which stands amongst the rest for the sinister bass riff which propels it forward, but whether Henry’s voice works that well with the darker atmosphere is quite debatable.
Henry’s vocals are to be treat as both an emotional centrepiece to each song, and a light melodic vacation from the often busy instrumentals behind him. His words blend into one another in a loose manner making them nearly incomprehensible at times, but listening close brings you to stories of heartache, loneliness and suicide. ‘It’s best we part, I am broken and no good for you’ Henry sings near the end of the closing track Empty Palms, as if close to tears.
The main highlights of Disappointment Island are found in the shifting dynamics of the tracks. Many of the songs burst into life unexpectedly, due to some excellent performances from drummer Chris Collis, who jumps from light grooving to ghost note infused pandemonium at an instant. Every track is full of space and free flowing melodies, with each performance intertwining around the other fantastically, whilst remaining utterly unpredictable. Take the sudden anthemic chorus found at the end of There’s no ‘I’ in Time as the perfect example of this.
As one would expect from TTNG the instrumental performances here are filled with virtuosity, but they aren’t a distraction. As perplexing as many of the riffs in this album may be, it’s not complexity for the sake of it, and theres a sense of bittersweet anguish behind each note. The odd time signatures aren’t too noticeable either, thanks to what is admirable songwriting.
We’re not getting anything massively different to what would be expected from TTNG with Disappointment Island, but thats exactly what is great about it. The band continues to refine a sound that is both complex and emotionally stirring, filled with masterful performances and some outstanding songwriting thrown in for good measure.