Disappointment Island is a real place. Located approximately 180 miles off the southern coast of New Zealand, the isle is a part of the uninhabited Auckland Islands archipelago. The history of Disappointment Island is certainly reflective of its name; in 1907 an unfortunate vessel and twelve of its crew members met their demise after colliding with the island’s rocky west bank. Sixteen survivors would have to wait seven months before being rescued. Despite the island’s unwelcoming past with humans, it has proven its worth among particular seafowl, specifically the white-capped albatross. Serving as a haven for nearly 65,000 pairs of the species to nest, Disappointment Island has become the home for almost the entire population of these benevolent birds. The island is not just a home for these birds, but an entirely unique territory otherwise uninhabitable—distinctive in it’s own right, yet sharing qualities of other untold islands of similar stature.
Following a name change from the less-PC This Town Needs Guns on the eve of their sophomore release 188.8.131.52.0, twinkle daddies TTNG return under a proper new acronym for their third studio album, Disappointment Island. The band has survived their own scene’s fad of impermanence, as they’ve outlived most of their “emo revival” forerunner peers such as Snowing and Algernon Cadwallader by a number of years. While the group has certainly fashioned a specific nook for themselves within the twinkly math rock scene, their existence heavily relies on the influence of emo-math pioneers American Football. TTNG’s nostalgia-washed guitar/bass combo has remained stagnant over the course of their career, as their latest further embraces their simplistic flair favoring minimalism over the use of pedals and effects.
TTNG’s knack for arrangement should not go without mentioning. The band’s ability to assemble stirring chord progressions among seamless time signature shifts and rhythmic variations is remarkable. Key track “Whatever, Whenever” highlights the group’s mastery of said technical qualities, while the sullen “Consoling Ghosts” produces a melodic warmth within four aching minutes. Brothers Tim and Chris Collis comprise the backbone of TTNG, concentrating their virtuoso musicianship on the music’s intricacy. The band’s proficiency in entangling each instrument not only establishes an individual voice for all three musicians, but also supplies each track with an incredible amount of depth, impossible to fully absorb upon first listen.
Latter highlight “Destroy the Tabernacle” is the most traditionally structured track on Disappointment Island, containing an immediately engrossing riff that endures throughout the length of the song. While the hook repeats 12 times, its instantaneous allure never befalls to dullness, becoming an anchor for the track’s winding arrangements. “In Praise of Idleness” equally represents TTNG’s musical meandering, encapsulating varying guitar lines scattered over choral moments of driving bass and rhythmic drum shifts.
Though Disappointment Island doesn’t necessarily stray far from TTNG’s formula, the album is the band’s most mature release to date, emphasizing the craft the group has sought to hone over the course of their existence. The release’s lyrics favor sophistication over sappiness, as Henry Tremain’s vocals tinge the driving, fluid pieces with a sense of overwhelming melancholy. Disappointment Island is a safe yet solid progression for the Oxford trio, as their consistency over the course of three albums cements their brand within the sphere of their musical setting.