Always an overwrought emo outfit, Minnesota’s Tiny Moving Parts are no strangers to telling their audience exactly how they feel. One might tiptoe into such an agenda with reluctance, as the moany tendencies of the genre can be overwhelming, but if there’s one thing the band executed beautifully on their 2016 album ‘Celebrate’, it was positivity.
‘Swell’, the band’s third release on Triple Crown, sees the band attempt to conquer any adversity or uncertainty by continuing the positive outlook set by ‘Celebrate’, entirely through their music. Surely, that’s a pretty heavy task? Managing to successfully vent your frustrations through your music while also presenting a light at the end of the tunnel. Well, ‘Caution’ sees Dylan Mattheisen triumphantly get his feelings across verse-by-verse, in the first by anxiously describing his numbness and inability to drum up any truly romantic feelings, then in the second he manages to outweigh this by realising he is capable of love, before shouting this discovery from the rooftops in the bridge, declaring “you are caffeine in my bloodstream”, with a female harmony.
Some of the album’s narratives are unconventional, but in an alluringly imaginative way, like an abstract film director or an experimental novelist. ‘It’s Too Cold Tonight’ sees Mattheisen take comfort in the get-by nature a fox may have, peacefully enjoying an otherwise detestable environment, and closing track ‘Warm Hand Splash’ sees the singer put himself in the position of a piece of trash taking satisfaction in being in the company of a shiny coin. It’s up to the individual to decide whether it’s a good or bad thing, but there is a certain degree of vagueness in some of the lyrics, you could say it at least helps the listener to enjoy the song the way they’d like to, or you could say Mattheisen has trouble making his songs appear as personal as he sees them.
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Tiny Moving Parts don’t let the passion of their music get swallowed up by the repetitive traits of emo/post-hardcore too often, as demonstrated really well on ‘Celebrate’, but there are a few clichés that might turn a few people off. Sure, some of the lead guitar licks are pretty, especially in ‘Smooth It Out’, letting the band firmly cling onto their Midwest match rock roots, and that song also has its “it’s like second hand smoke in your lungs, you cough you cough you cough” chorus, which is addictive in more than one way, but the linearly-paced guitar rockers sometimes don’t stray far enough from their hardcore comfort zone to feel special. Plus, there are a few eye-rolling lyrics scattered around, for instance “just once you think that it’s alright…IT’S ALL WRONG” from ‘Malfunction’, an otherwise fine song, even if the word “malfunction” is sung a few too many times.
The main duty of Tiny Moving Parts coming into this album, to learn from misfortunes and optimistically move forward, is executed fairly well albeit vaguely and convolutedly at times. Their drive and determination still exists from ‘Celebrate’, but ‘Swell’ doesn’t hide its weaknesses as well, its one-track style, its done-to-death motifs, it’s an album of determent, but it’s serviceable.
‘Swell’ is out January 26th via Triple Crown Records / Big Scary Monsters. The albums full track listing is as follows…
2. Smooth It Out
3. Feel Alive
6. Whale Watching
7. It’s Too Cold Tonight
10. Warm Hand Splash