On The North Pole Project, Number One Gun lives up to its name in one significant respect: It is the product of one person, frontman Jeff Schneeweis. After several years of gutting it out at indie and smaller labels, the band seemed to hit it big in 2005 with a successful, Aaron Sprinkle-produced, debut for Tooth & Nail Records, Promises of the Imperfect.
But then the group split. Guitarist Chris Keene and drummer Jordan Mallory formed Surrogate, which released its debut in August. Schneeweis was going to record a solo project under the name The North Pole Project, but ended up using that as the name of a new Number One Gun album, written, played and sung entirely by Schneeweis.
Sometimes this works really well, Underoath drummer Aaron Roderick Gillespie's effort as The Almost being a prime example.
And The North Pole Project has some moments such as the drama of the multi-layered The Massacre, in which Schneeweis develops tension between competing vocals. It is a device he uses again several times on North Pole, to somewhat less effect. He really does his best on the album's handful of ballads, including The Best of You and Me and The Different Ones, which gives you the impression that, left bandless, maybe Schneeweis' best option would have been to pick up an acoustic guitar and show himself as a minimal soloist. As a multitasker, he comes up with something that sounds like a retread of a lot of recent modern pop, but there's no bang.