I really liked Shiny Toy Guns' 1st/2nd/3rd CD We Are Pilots. It had an enjoyable mix of dance, electronica, and pop/rock. Whe I heard they were coming out with a new CD, I was understandably excited. Then I learned that they had parted ways with Carah Faye Charnow, who had injected a lot of the attitude and fun that made We Are Pilots so good. Then I heard the lead single to Season of Poison - 'Ricochet!', which prompted me to write the following:
"I was pumped for a new Shiny Toy Guns release when I first heard it was coming, but if the rest of Season of Poison is anything like this, it'll just prove that We Are Pilots was lightning in a bottle, and that the lightning has escaped."
Luckily, Season of Poison isn't quite all that bad. Sisely's "tough girl" vocals prove to be tortuous at times, but her actual 'singing' voice is pretty decent. The album kicks off with a song that represents the abum pretty well "When Did the Storm Begin", Sisely sort of rhythmicly shouts the verses, but she's saved soon enough by a soaring power-pop chorus. This proves to be about as close as Season of Poison comes to a formula. Most of the CD is guitar-driven power-pop, basicaly A lot less "Don't Cry Out", a lot more "Chemistry of a Car Crash". Occasionaly it veers and careens from genre to genre, touching on hints of african drum beats ("Season of Love"), some honest to God prog-rock ("Poison") and a LOT of 80's pop ("I Owe You a Love Song", and especially "Blown Away"). Through it all though, there very few light melodies. These are big songs.
I've warmed to 'Ricochet' to the extent that I greatly enjoy the chorus, but the verses are still hard to listen to. In fact, that represents one of the problems I do have with this CD. The album is so scattershot (often switching things up within the song, and putting things that don't necessarily work together - such as the organ led verses and the distorted guitar chord guzzling of "Blown Away") that you often get something you're not fond of mixed in with a song that you enjoy. There's the painful verses of the otherwise fantastic "When Did the Storm Begin?". There's the epic "Poison" with 2 minutes of needless organ and ambient noise noodling stuck on the end. A lot of it just seems disjointed, like the band had a million different directions they wanted to go, and only 45 minutes to pack it into.
If that sounds harsh, I really don't mean it to be. Like I said initially, this is a good CD. The band obviously doesn't miss Carah nearly as much as I had feared they might. With a few head-scratching exceptions, Sisely acquits herself pretty well. It's easy to miss sure things like "Don't Cry Out", and "Le Disko", and I don't think this CD will gain quite the same place in my CD wallet that We Are Pilots did, but I'd recommend this to anyone who liked Shiny Toy Guns before.
It's nice to be proven wrong sometimes.