Four years down the line from their slightly shambolic sophomore effort, 'Season Of Poison', Shiny Toy Guns return with original members back in the fold for the release of their appropriately titled third album, 'III'. The Los Angeles-based synth-pop quartet have gone back to what they do best – plenty of synths and grooving bass lines. However, the band may have healed its rift, but will this album ultimately recapture what they worked so hard to create on their first album?
'III' is a solid, hook laden expression of indie-infused synth-pop that feels on the one had very pop orientated, but at the same time a little off the wall. Huge electronic melodies come together with groove laden bass and dance beats to create some utterly compelling listening. While the dual male and female vocals courtesy of Carah Faye and Chad Petree give the somewhat superficial lyrics more depth and emotion. The album is obviously aiming its sights quite high, and why not considering the band's previous flirtations with mainstream success.
Musically songs like 'Somewhere To Hide', 'Waiting Alone' 'If I Lost You' and 'E V A Y' channel acts such as The Pet Shop Boys, Duran Duran, Peter Gabriel, Daft Punk and Giorgio Moroder with ease. Yet the likes of 'Speaking Japanese' and 'The Sun' show off the band's grittier, and arguably more satisfying side, recalling The Faint, Blondie and Depeche Mode to a certain extent.
However the album does feature one major failing and that's in the dirging ballad 'Take Me Back To Where I Was'. It's heavy use of piano and unfiltered vocals expose what is essentially a poorly written and performed song. Long-time fans who think the band can do no wrong will probably lap it up, but ultimately it is a disposable b-side at best.
'III' is a step in the right direction for a band hell bent on redemption. But there is some brilliant song-writing on display that unfortunately doesn't benefit from being associated with what is essentially a lot of filler. Yet the basics seem to have fallen back into place, which hints that the band still have so much more to offer.