23rd March 2017 – Hummus Records
5. Music Circus Clown Care
7. Wind machines For Company
8. Self Employment Scheme
10. The Screening
Saints be praised. Coilguns came together as an outlet for pent-up creativity whilst the core trio of Louis Jucker, Luc Hess and Jona Nido were part of The Ocean. Stepping out from under Robin Staps’ shadow in 2013 unleashed a veritable orgy of projects, including varying combinations of the three musicians, and a label – Hummus Records – to give them all a home. Coilguns, however, felt like the very eye of the storm.
The band announced they were sequestering themselves away to write the follow-up to their intense and thrilling 2013 full-length debut, Commuters, in early 2015. Which they did. But then…nothing. In the interim, one was most likely to find Luc and Jona hitting stages with their instrumental two-piece Closet Disco Queen. Louis also popped up from time to time playing one-off solo shows.
And still we waited.
That patience finally paid off when, in the last weeks of 2017, Coilguns brought their incendiary antics back to the stage, and finally took those second album tapes off the shelf and pinned a release date on them. Saints, as I say, be praised.
It’s probably unsurprising that Coilguns have emerged from hibernation in a slightly different shape to when they tucked themselves away. Up to now, the band’s live show have been stripped back to the barest essentials (save for Jona’s gigantic pedalboard), but Coilguns have always given themselves more latitude in the studio. Most notably “Earthians” – the closing track on Commuters – featured at least four guitarists. Now they have bolstered their line-up with Donatien Thievent handling synths, effects, backing vocals and some guitars. Louis has also been seen occasionally strapping on a guitar at the recent shows, too – so the broader scope of the studio recordings can now be brought more fully to the stage.
Coilguns may have already strayed somewhat from their original remit of playing ‘fast, simple music’, but Millennials certainly features tracks that fit that bill. Nowhere more so than with the title-track, a white-knuckle thrill ride that barrels along like a runaway train. “Blackboxing“, too, sets off at a frenetic pace before descending into chaos and then recovering for a final blast through it’s spiky main riff. In a case study of efficiency, “Wind Machines For Company” revs up, releases and relaxes in the space of a minute.
In the main, Millennials sees Coilguns shift more towards generating intensity through dense layers of ominous noise, rather than all-out caustic attack. More like being methodically stalked by a Terminator than chased down and torn apart by wild dogs. You know, in a good way. Lead single and opening track “Anchorite” fits this bill, and is also notable for having possibly the most portentous utterance of the word ‘pillow’ ever committed to tape. Elsewhere, “Deletionism” and album closer “The Screening” are hypnotic delights, with the later packing a tremendously satisfying gut-churn of a riff.
While the music of Millennials might not quite hit the complexity thresholds that would qualify it as ‘technical’, it still showcases Coilguns’ unconventional and distinctive approach to rhythm and groove. Full of twitches and quirks but retaining a loose, fluid, jam-based vibe, it could only be the product of musicians with a deep connection. Indeed, Luc and Jona have now spent so long playing together in a variety of contexts that they operate less like the standard well-oiled machine, and more like two halves of the same brain. Topped off with Louis’ arrestingly demented yelps, howls and roars, it is a genuinely compelling proposition.
In a world where more and more music is written by lone individuals hunched over a laptop, it is particularly refreshing to hear an album that could only be the product of a group of close friends going into a room, closing the door and going seven shades of batshit together. Collectively, Coilguns have constructed a scenario, and developed the skills, to take their music wherever they damn well please. And that is tremendously exciting. We can only hope that we won’t have to wait quite so long for the next bombardment – but even if we have to, Millennials will certainly keep us going until then.