At midnight the electronic duo Shiny Toy Guns releases their 3rd album, appropriately titled “III”. The band was formed 10 years ago in L.A., and this is the first album they’ve come out with in almost four years.
The album reunites the 4 original band members; the two founders are Chad Petree (vocals & guitar) and Jeremy Dawson (bass & keyboard), and Carah Faye is the female vocalist while Mikey Martin is on drums. They describe the album as a “collection of exuberant, intensely personal songs about life, love, loss, and redemption.”
The band initially gained recognition from MySpace, which led to them creating the first album “We are Pilots” in 2005/2006 with Universal Records. The album had three big hit singles that made it to the top 30 alternative songs chart, and was nominated for a Grammy award; the biggest tracks from their first album were “Le Disko”, “You Are the One”, “Rainy Monday”, and “Don’t Cry Out”.
After such rapid success the band embarked on a crazy tour schedule, performing 300 shows in a year, constantly on the road. The band pushed themselves too hard, wore out, and crumbled. Carah Faye went to Sweden to find some independence and do a bit of soul searching. She wrote songs on her own, developed her personal musical style, and got married to sound engineer Daniel Johannsen, which resulted her musical project ‘Versant’.
During that time, Shiny Toy Guns came out with a second album in 2008 called “Season of Poison”, which had a more acoustic sound and enlisted the talents of female vocalist Sisley Treasure. The two biggest singles from “Season of Poison” were “Ricochet!” and “Ghost Town”, and were top 20 rock radio singles at the time. Their version of “Major Tom” thrust Shiny Toy Guns further into the limelight.
But Dawson and Martin were adamant about patching up the friendship with Faye and bringing her back to her original place in Shiny Toy Guns. So they flew to Sweden against her wishes and healed a wounded bond, bringing her back and showing strength through struggles. The band’s members have undeniably grown and learned hugely from fighting through the tough times together and have come away from the experience as wiser and better friends. Unfortunately Faye’s marriage to Johannsen ended during the writing of “III”, and it’s easy to see how clearly that pain shines through in some of the tracks on “III”.
This album mixes the characteristic electronic sound that Shiny Toy Guns originally embraced with the alternative indie rock style they’ve developed over the years, and needless to say it’s an exciting fusion.
It starts off upbeat, with the song “Somewhere to Hide”, which sounds like it might be a depressing song, but it’s surprisingly uplifting. You’ll be singing along by the second time you hear “Somewhere to Hide”; it has that ‘dance all night’ type of vibe, both mysterious and comforting and exhilarating all at the same time. You know it’s good when you actually LIKE having a song stuck in your head.
The second track, “Waiting Alone”, which was released in June, starts off showcasing beautiful vocals by Carah Faye, soon joined by Petree, and they sing a heartbreaking duet mourning a dying love. It has an electronic indie sound, with a touch of pop, but a kind of mature electronic indie pop. It’s exciting, haunting, and easy to listen to.
“Carrie” is third, and is fast paced with more of a rock feel than the previous two tracks. It has a sense of angst, frustration, and nostalgia, as Petree and Faye alternate verses that describe the ups and downs of the emotional rollercoaster that Shiny Toy Guns has gone through as a band.
“If I Lost You” is clearly another one about lost love, starting off with soothing background female vocals and a downtempo, synthy beat. It’s an emotional love song, pulls at the heartstrings, and everyone can relate. It gets at everyone’s worst nightmares – losing the ones we love. “If I Lost You” is touching, tragic, beautiful, emotional, and powerful.
The album picks back up with “Speaking Japanese”, which has a fun and mechanical feel to it, almost futuristic. They employ staccato in a very creative, electric way, making it more unique and embracing their rock roots.
“Mercy” is one of my favorite tracks on the album. It starts off slow, painful, dark, but then picks up and quickly gets your head nodding and your feet tapping. “Mercy” is a great example of what the Shiny Toy Guns’ sound really is, balancing the electronic, indie, and rock aspects of their group.
Song number seven is “Wait 4 Me”, with smooth vocals and a super chill vibe with an intriguing and modern touch. It’s a refreshing love song, different, not the same thing you’ve heard a million times before, and has wonderful harmonies.
“Fading listening” is a chill electronic indie track that was released in August and has a sort of 80s Beegees feel to it, combining the old with the new and producing a really unique, ethereal, mystical sound. The next track, “The Sun”, is a really catchy single that was released in March of last year, and is more on the electronic pop side of things.
Another one from “III” that I think will get a lot of attention is “E V A Y”, the 10th song on the album. It’s haunting and chill and mystical all at once, and really keeps you interested. This is just another track that solidifies my respect for Shiny Toy Guns’ choice to take creative risks and give us something we haven’t heard before.
The album ends on a slow paced song called “Take Me Back to Where I Was”, which encapsulates the mixed emotions that usually come with nostalgia. It is reminiscent of the end of a party night, when you are going home with the thrill of the night still spinning through your head, wishing it didn’t have to end.
The countdown for their album has been ticking away on their official website, www.shinytoyguns.com, where you can order your copy of “III” right now.