CD REVIEW: The Warm Guns - Electric Mobile Movies
By Alex Jasperse - 04/16/2007 - 09:48 PM EDT
Artist: Band: The Warm Guns
Album: Electric Mobile Movies 
Label: Zircon Skye Publishing
Genre: Neo-Psychedelic, Pop/Rock, Glam Rock
Production/Musicianship Grade: 8.5/10
Songwriting Skills: 7.0/10
Performance Skill: 8.0/10
Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends, We're so glad you could attend, Come inside! Come inside! Alright, clichés aside, how else can you describe a musical event that combines the intrigue, mystery and awe of a rock opera or a vaudeville stage? Get ready for The Warm Guns, my friends…
The Warm Guns flirt with heavy rock reminiscent of David Bowie (particularly, Ziggy Stardust), mixed with the lighter pop sensibilities of The Beatles and the epic proportions of Queen (A Night at the Opera comes to mind). Electric Mobile Movies gracefully revisits an era of 70s glam and psychedelic rock, setting the stage for an experience that’s infused with lush multi-part arrangements, head-banging riffage and a collection of potential hit singles.
Despite the strong act, the album’s poorest performer is the song structure. This verse-chorus-repeat-as-necessary prescription begins to wear in the appeal factor very quickly. Take tracks like “Role,” “Hey You,” “Under Whitechurch Chapel,” “And We Thought Again,” “Rise,” and “Brand New Lay” for example, which all fall into a repetitive spin cycle of structural sameness. The Warm Guns have rehashed a tried and true formula that still defines much of the popular music landscape, and added some 21st century finishes, in hopes that it’ll assist in reshaping a pretty traditional sonic costume in disguise of the new. So is it fair to label Electric Mobile Movies as kitschy artwork? Is it lacking the sense of creativity and originality that was displayed nearly 40 years ago by groups such as David Bowie, The Beatles and Queen?
Granted, the originality is up to much debate, but in both the lyrical and instrumental departments, The Warm Guns offer a complete 180˚ turn in a whole other direction. The introspective wit and intellectual depth to lead singer and guitarist’s Lewis John Carlino’s lyrics will leave goosebumps etched into your arms for hours.
The provocative imagery painted by his lyrics and flamboyant tenor vocals is clearly responsible for the injection of adrenaline into the musical experience. Exposition tracks like “The Life & Times” are arranged into a grown up bedtime story; tales of P.T. Barnum and devious murder plots that inspire a childlike awe to go back and read it all over again. Led by an upbeat acoustic guitar and drum line, the fear, the wonder and the intrigue are all there as you try to piece the story together while diving headlong towards the ground, only to be swept up into the acrobatics of war zones mixed with wedding cakes and fashion models going out of style. Sounds dizzying? Yes, you have to hear it to understand.
The bombastic combination of lyrical imagery temporarily slows down as it nears the end of the first act, when the title track “Electric Mobile Movies” introduces a simplistic and leisurely heavy metal performance to the show. But the urge to stretch and take a quick break never hits when things settle down; instead you’re swept up into the grandeur of “Electric Mobile Movies” that ushers in layers of heart-racing vocals, guitar leads and lush orchestration. An intermission would simply get in the way at this point.
“Role” is perhaps the song that summarizes the entire direction of the album most accurately. It’s an enjoyable, uncomplicated, traditional pop structure, mixed with an introspective outcry that’s reinforced with lush Phil Spector orchestration. The chorus’s catchy and simplistic lyrical groove (“And I just want to be part of this / There is a reason to be here / I caught that show on TV / And the actor playing my part / Did a better job being me”), combined with a muscular sound, is well above the meaningless chatter of most pop songs. Ironically Lewis comments on this very thing later on in “The Program’s Gone All Weird”: “Shitty pop music, it hurts my ears / And it doesn’t have a whole lot to say…”
Nearing the album’s three-quarter mark, tracks like the highly buffed and Pro-Tooled “Hey You” begin to weigh down the album. Granted, the music is infectious, melodic and quirky, but the quasi-ballad tracks like “Under Whitechurch Chapel” and “And We Thought Again” begin to wear thin with the simplistic and plodding acoustic and drum bits. There’s a sense of restlessness, because the decision not to pause for a half time break in order to get the performers back in tip top shape, makes tracks like “Still Breathing” feel as though they’re going to collapse of exhaustion midway through. The dark and witty lyrics that defined the first half of their album are still there, but it doesn’t do much to rescue the latter tracks from drifting off into the deep end of blatantly radio-friendly easy listening. But that’s the risk you take with letting all the best acts out first.
The taste of an album is here. However, the earnestly passionate intent of The Warm Guns to create a dreamy and powerful pop classic is smothered by B-sides that detract from the artistic tour de force found in other tracks. Despite this, they successfully maintain the tension, excitement and intrigue of a high wire act without ever falling into the abyss of over-exuberance and excess. Rest assured you’ll get your moneys worth but although it’s not The greatest show in heaven, hell or earth, at the end of the day, Electric Mobile Movies is still some damn fine rock and roll.
The Verdict: 8.6/10
For more information, please contact The Warm Guns at firstname.lastname@example.org
P.S. For all those who are curious, that song I quoted was Emerson, Lake & Palmer’s Karn Evil 9: 1st Impression, Part 2. Yeah, yeah, I know…
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