Album Review: Gunning For Tamar – Camera Lucida EP

There have been some pretty great bands from Oxford over the years, right? The city most known for its historic university has, over the years, borne the likes of Radiohead, Supergrass, Ride, The Young Knives, Foals and many more besides. The latest in this long line of pedigree bands are four-piece Gunning For Tamar, who bring out their third EP ‘Camera Lucida’ on the city’s own Alcopop! label, itself boasting a fine indie heritage (Johnny Foreigner, Stagecoach, The Attika State, Freeze The Atlantic etc etc). Has the “city of dreaming spires” produced yet another sublime act? The answer is an unequivocal “yes”.

Gunning For Tamar (the name references a river in vocalist Joe Wallis’ native Cornwall)’s sound takes cues from the likes of Biffy Clyro, Reuben and fellow Oxonians TTNG (formerly known as This Town Needs Guns), creating a tantalising mix of taut dynamics, dreamy atmospherics and fiery indie-rock riffs. The five-tracker begins with ‘Yogging’ (a cracking Anchorman reference), an enigmatic piano intro building into the sort of incendiary riff Biffy used to produce before going all radio-rock on us – the type of track sure to turn heads when delivered in the live arena, with a wonderful soaring vocal from the aforementioned Wallis.

‘Lights, Daggers and Faces’ employs more piano at its introduction, but contrary to the juggernaut-esque opener, this one packs in the sort of seductive melodies any longtime listener of GFT will be used to. This one is in the vein of post-Alex Pennie The Automatic (i.e. when Paul Mullen from yourcodenameis:milo joined the band, they became awesome but nobody was interested because they didn’t play Monster anymore), and lands a considerable hook with its refrain of “Every day I’m dreaming of shapes”.

‘Another Season’ finds the album turn down a more melancholy route, with the lyrics exploring a visit back to a hometown left long ago, describing how so much has changed yet stayed exactly the same. Emotive and introspective, this shows a side of GFT rarely exposed since first EP ‘Deaf Cow Motel’s ‘God Made Colours’. ‘Swallower’ finds the band in a far more buoyant state of mind, setting a vibe of ‘Futures’-era Jimmy Eat World in their subtler moments, and should prove in time to be a solid live favourite. The curtain closer ‘How To Set Fire To Your Hands’ is a fantastic slow-burner, ruminating on the effects of age, building steadily into a final flourish before the repeated “I can tell I’m getting older” closes out the EP.

Gunning For Tamar have rightly earned a reputation as one of the hardest-working bands around, and are about to embark on a mammoth UK tour in support of this wonderful little record. There are aspects to this EP that pique the interest straight away, but is packed with little nuances that are not immediately apparent, and warrants repeated listens. Their strongest set of songs yet, if you haven’t yet experienced GFT, now would be a great time to start. This album is released on the first of the fourth month, and you’d be an absolute April Fool not to buy it.


‘Camara Lucida’ EP by Gunning For Tamar is released on 1st April on Alcopop! Records.

Gunning For Tamar links: Official Website|Facebook|Twitter

Words by Ollie Connors


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