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Feedback: Shiny Toy Guns re-found their "shine"

Music columnist Jackson Farley on Shiny Toy Guns' III

By Jackson Farley | Nov. 1, 2012

Tags: Music

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Reunions are a beautiful thing.

A soldier returning from war to see his family. Christmas dinner with the extended family (although some would argue about how "beautiful" that really is…). Peanut butter and jelly meeting up with a tender embrace on a nice slab of white bread.

Oh, and also the re-joining of singer Carah Faye Charnow to rock band Shiny Toy Guns for their third studio album, III. After a long four years without a CD and without Charnow, Shiny Toy Guns is back in business with not only a new album, but also the original singer that everyone had grown to love so dearly.

Released on October 26, III is a kickin' album with potential to be in the running for best album of the year as a mix of good ole' rock and electro-pop dripping with synth-love.

The album starts off strong with "Somewhere To Hide," one of those songs that's so incredibly catchy that by the last few choruses, you're already singing along. "Somewhere To Hide" is a perfect combination of Charnow's smooth voice, gritty synths and the elements of your everyday rock band, blended up nicely and served in a tall glass over ice. Oh, and there's definitely a cherry on top.

"Waiting Alone," "Carrie" and "Speaking Japanese" can all be summed up in one word: loud. Infectious hooks, grungy beats and sassy lyrics all define these tracks. These tracks also have a nice '80s feel, so for those interested in a little blast for the past, you might like one of these.

While mostly heard in backgrounds of tracks or used as harmony, guitarist and vocalist Chad Petree's voice can be easily looked over when Charnow is on the front lines. However, "Mercy" is quite the exception. Claiming almost the entire song as his territory, Petree really struts his stuff on this song and showcases his dreamy voice.

"Wait 4 Me" and "E V A Y" are two more tracks oozing with electro-pop goodness. These tracks are very representative of III as a whole: enough traditional rock elements, enough synth and enough pure awesome. These songs are what would happen if MGMT bred with Paper Route and then with The Temper Trap. It's a lot of breeding, but that's totally what it'd be like.

Now, take a breath. After 10 tracks of upbeat dance music, the final track on III slows things down a bit and changes moods completely. "Take Me Back To Where I Was," another Petree-empowered track, focuses on piano and vocals. This track is simply breathtaking. Petree's voice stirs a deep emotional feel and ends the track on an awe-inspiring note. "Take Me Back To Where I Was" is a lovely surprise, and although it may not resemble the rest of the album, I think fans will be completely fine with it.

So, the question of the hour: is Shiny Toy Guns better with Carah Charnow back? Was her presence on III a huge step up from Season of Poison? Would III have been less impressive without her? I would dare to answer yes to all of those questions. Sure, the band's previous album, Season of Poison, was a substantially good album. However, without Charnow, I'm not sure it unlocked its full potential. Let's face it, without Charnow, Shiny Toy Guns just wasn't as shiny (and nobody likes Dull Toy Guns). But, in the end, good prevailed. Shiny Toy Guns re-found their shine.

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