They sure can weather a storm, ol' This Town Needs Guns. After the release of debut full-length Animals in 2008, bassist Dan Adams called it quits to go and start a family. Vocalist and sometime guitar-botherer Stuart Smith dropped out for the same happy reasons soon after (all this, to say nothing of the original rhythm section). Decent bands have been broken on the back of less. But nah, not This Town. Where the Kinsellas were always prone to disbanding their outfits and starting new ones, those Collis brothers have kept on keepin' on, first drafting in Jamie Cooper (him of similarly tappy math trio Hreda) on low end, and then Henry Tremain (him of similarly tappy emo archivists Pennines) to handle roles in voice and axe left.

I don't think anyone's in any real suspense here. You'll no doubt have heard opener 'Cat Fantastic', so you'll know that it's all come out in the wash, and more besides. If we're going with that (and we are), 'Cat Fantastic' is like yanking a tired old favourite from the drum to find it dyed in a new shade that you think you kinda like. 2009's Animals was, if nothing else, ultra-consistent, Tim Collis' arid six-string dust-devils flickering around brother Chris's tight, jungly fidget, while Smith had a good old moan over the top and Adams filled in the blanks. Bit of glockenspiel here, bit of piano there, some snips and strings on 'Zebra', but largely singular in execution. Over the course of its five minutes, 'Cat Fantastic' showcases perfectly This Town Needs Guns v2.0. At 14 seconds, Collis and Tremain send out intertwining arcs of crystalline six-string (two lead guitars! On a This Town record!). At 2.34, Cooper's bass pushes to the front (bass front and centre! On a This Town record!). At 3.45, Collis' guitar sounds like it probably has delay on it (effects! On a…sorry, sorry.) Over a short time, it becomes apparent that Tremain is singing not about doomed romance (as Smith was so wont to do), but poverty and wealth, 'economic divide', as he has it.

You know what I'm trying to say. The base elements – the Collises – are still here, but Tremain and Summers are doing more than just filling some vacant shoes. Witness three of the record's instrumental mile markers. 'In The Branches of Yggdrasil' slices up static and public service announcement in alien tongue, before letting Cooper's rolling bassline plot the course while Tremain and Collis flicker about in back, indistinct and drenched in reverb. 'Nice Riff, Clichard' rolls in off soft waves, throwing slow, sparkly arpeggi over a clacking machine stutter that has more in common with Manual or eDit than American Football or Owls. Ever wondered what This Town Needs Guns would sound like in Elizabeth I's courtroom, done up like Brugghen's 'Man Playing Lute'? 'Pygmy Polygamy', yo. This Town Needs Guns would/could not have done any of this four years ago.

So on paper, looks great, right? Sure it does. So why don't I love it with all my shrivelled, desiccated heart? I'll tell you for why. For all the progression/growth/perpetual onward motion, there's a burn lacking on that, for me, was always the best thing about This Town, better than the pulloff lightning storms or the polyrhythmic counterattack. Maybe it's that, with the doubling of the band's virtuosity, nothing is in sharp focus any more, Cooper's complex lines tromping roughshod over any suggestion of an easy hook. Maybe it's that feeling is veiled by Tremain's polite inflection, which draws syllables out and remoulds words to the point of obscurity, words which no longer reveal the myriad worries of a mopey heart, but instead read like a beginner's guide to using a camera (if 'A Different Kind of Tall' is a metaphor, I'm not looking hard enough). There are beautiful moments for me on – the juddering funk break that crashes through 'Havoc in the Forum', Tremain going all Chris Broach with some frankly heroic six-string shenanigans on the pleasingly growly '+3 Awesomeness Repels Water', the way that 'I'll Take The Minute Snake' somehow morphs from a nervy take on Maps and Atlases' Afropop flirtations into lonely, streetlight electronica, all squiggle and glitch and glowing harmonic. There's brains enough to keep the time-sig-savvy occupied for months. But for all that, there's just not that much that runs riot around my insides and keeps me warm. is in righteous possession of each of the quantitative markers that can be used to delineate a musical outfit's positive progress. It's technically impressive, as if that ever wasn't going to be the case considering the calibre of its players. It presents to us a band who've handled the loss of two of their number with aplomb, plumping for new blood that flows perfectly through the same veins, or something. Its variety of sounds shows that its creators aren't afraid to cut loose the ballast of their musical past and meander off into fresh airspace. It's sacked in the quasi-diary missives that no one seems to like anymore anyway for something more abstract and wide-ranging, all in Tremain's competent, nice-guy high-end. moves forward, forward, forward. Because I am who I am (and for better or worse), I miss This Town Needs Guns, emo band. But don't hold that against 'em.