Band: Tiny Moving Parts
Area: Minnesota, USA
Date of release: Jan 26, 2018
Genre: Post-hardcore (kinda?)
Reviewer: Hayden Oakley
Record Label: Triple Crown Records
Produced by Greg Lindholm
Mixed by Vince Ratti
For Fans Of: Dance Gavin Dance and "Swancore" in general
Next Gig: US Tour
"You're the copper, I'm the litter, at the bottom of the wishing well"
The 3 piece mathy, emo, whimsical miracle that is Tiny Moving Parts have proven themselves through their latest record, "Swell", to be more than just the sum of their parts! Ok I'm sorry, that was terrible, but this album is far from that! For those too busy to read this whole piece too bad, let me take you on a journey.
So now that you know what I think of this record, let's delve into why. From the first few seconds of the first track, Applause, we get a sweet, sweet taste of that delicious Dance Gavin Dance-esque guitar work that these guys utilize so perfectly in their own unique way. This light-hearted groove is broken up swiftly by Dylan Mattheisen's signature gritty vocals, eliciting an old school emo nostalgia that you really don't see enough of these days. As we push further on into the song, we hear those gorgeous guitar lines mixed in among the chord progression. For a band with just one guitarist, these guys do a great job of maintaining melodic intrigue while still providing a driving force, pushing the song along in a meaningful direction.
While the drum work and bass work isn't as technical, it provides a solid backbone to this track (and impressively, the whole album) through great use of empty space, adding just enough rhythmic flavour to keep it engaging but not steal the spotlight. Now here's the "but" for me on this track. While the vocal melody and performance on this record is nothing short of fantastic, I can't help but feel let down by the lyrics on this one song. Yeah, sure there are some cool moments like the opening hook, "Send applause to your heart strings", but the chorus and a lot of the verses, I feel, left some to be desired. That said the better moments lyrically, for me, hold this track together enough for me to say with confidence that it's definitely not an objectively bad song by any means. Really, I just feel that it could have been better with some catchier lines as opposed to the abstract poetic thing they're going for, although many that's the appeal, just not for me. All in all, as an opening track and promotional single, this song really sets the tone for what you can expect musically and thematically in this release through strong composition and musicianship.
Now the sour note I had on that first track regarding lyrics is not consistent with the rest of the album at all. From track 2 onwards, I can't fault any of the vocal hooks in all honesty. In terms of themes in the lyrics, at its core, this album's lyrics are very reminiscent of classic emo tunes, tackling topics like self doubt in the way that it impacts relationships and the journey of discovering yourself that this kind of introspection pertains. The blunt way that Dylan tells this story of facing oneself is so honest and nihilistic that you can't help but feel something swell inside, or maybe it's just me being your cliché emo kid... Aren't I too old for teen angst? At least my haircut's somewhat better now... Getting back on track though, I can't really add anymore to this section other than I really enjoyed the lyrical content of this album.
From start to finish, the instrumental arrangement and composition is untouchable. These guys took what they already have done so well in previous releases and banked on their ability to create in this unique style, putting together, in my opinion, their most consistent and impressive album yet. The way they juxtapose such hopeless lyrics at times with such a yearning feeling instrumentally works wonders in their favour as they construct an emotional journey for us to embark upon. It's almost as if the lyrics are what the mind is saying logically, but the music is the irrational way that the heart feels, creating a remarkably relatable experience for the listener, myself included. The album concludes with what I found to be the most apt example of this (which just so happens to be my favourite track on this release), Warm Hand Splash. As a conclusive track, I feel that it nicely concludes the journey Tiny Moving Parts has taken us along, evoking what I perceived to be acceptance of the realisations and tragedies past. The slow and intentional progression of this final song just, to me, feels like an admission of bittersweet defeat. The humility of the acknowledgment in the final line still lingers on my mind, "I thought I had it right, the thought that washed away" really emphasizes the feeling that a rite of passage has been completed and that it's time to move on. Really beautiful stuff.
In conclusion, this emotional coming of age piece is not one to miss.
Don't sleep on Swell.
Support Tiny Moving Parts by buying or streaming their music today via the links below.
Tiny Moving Parts are currently touring the US. Here are some dates to look out for if you find yourself in these cities around this time!
Would You Go And See Them (WYGAST) 5/5
Personal Enjoyment: 8.5/10