-- By Chris Muckey, KCRW DJ
It is often said that a band is "back" when they put out a new album. In the case of Shiny Toy Guns, the word "back" has even more significance. This Los Angeles-based quartet's third album, III, showcases the fruit of a reunion which brought the band back to its original formation. On III, their first album in four years, Shiny Toy Guns fine tune and further showcase the electronic pop sound which first endeared them to music lovers.
After their 2006 debut "We Are Pilots," internal struggles caused vocalist Carah Faye to leave the band. She moved to Sweden, where she continued to work on her craft, forming the band Versant and developing her songwriting chops. Shiny Toy Guns recorded their sophomore album, "Season Of Poison" (2008), without her.
With the intention to make a third album, and mend friendships, band members Jeremy Dawson and Mikey Martin visited Faye in Sweden. That trip and subsequent courting lead to Faye's re-joining Shiny Toy Guns, and being welcomed also as part of their creative brain trust.
III opens with the track "Somewhere To Hide," which immediately launches into dynamic synth pop. The album covers a lot of ground, but continually touches on the themes of love, longing, and the notion, and even anticipation, of loss. Highlights include "Fading Listening," which received quite a bit of KCRW airplay over the summer in anticipation of the album, and the upbeat yet emotional "Waiting Alone." A nod to the sound that first introduced us to the band is heard on "Speaking Japanese," which is reminiscent of their now-classic track "Le Disko." The song "e v a y" sounds like it could've been one that Peter Gabriel forgot to write, then two-thirds in becomes a sun-drenched soundtrack for the 6am drive home from an all-night desert party.
Shiny Toy Guns are back with III. Enjoy it this week as KCRW's Album Preview.