I had a dream earlier today when I accidentally napped for a few hours. A dream about a ginger cat called Nell. This is a strange way to start a review, I know, but just bear with me. It’ll make sense. I think. I mean it makes sense to me, but it happened to me. It might just sound like nonsense to you. Anyway, moving on…
I have never had a ginger cat, but in this dream it was like this particular feline had been with me for years. I’ve also never known anyone called Nell. I know a Mel, and I know a Neil, but not a single Nell. Aren’t brains weird? Anyway, I digress. Me and Nell the fictional ginger cat were inseparable. I even used to fit her with a harness and take her on walks (apparently). On one particular walk, the one in my dream, I accidentally let go of the harness and I lost her. I spent so long trying to find her (I think), and eventually stumbled across her with a whole horde of ginger cats that appeared to be her family. I thought “You know what, I love this cat, but she’s found her family and I can’t separate them. She’s made me happy, but now it’s time for her to be happy with her family”. I was also in the desert for some reason and kept talking to the cat about going to find doughnuts later on, so not the most realistic dream I’ve ever had, but you know what? It was a pleasant dream. A nice dream, and one that I actually remembered when I woke up. Why is this even relevant to this review? Because I was listening to the new Tiny Moving Parts record Swell when I was drifting off, and I’m almost certain that the vibes oozing out of this record influenced what was going on in my head. And those vibes are “Hey, not every bad situation has to be a bad situation. Don’t focus on the empty space, focus on what used to occupy it”.
This album is full of bright spots. Every single song is a story of sorts, all focusing on a different object or being as the main protagonist. Although the stories behind some of the songs are a bit on the wacky side, the morals all remain the same; look for the good in everything. This is the part where my weird dream starts to make more sense. Album closer Warm Hand Splash is about a piece of trash at the bottom of a wishing well that adores a coin, which someone eventually steals away, leaving the piece of trash forever alone and heartbroken in the dark. But it isn’t all doom and gloom. Vocalist/guitarist Dylan Mattheisen explains “There are two ways of looking at it. A) You’re stuck for life in that well and that’s really depressing and dark after having your favourite thing taken away. Or, B) being happy that even happened, that the happiness it brought you through those days could be happiness that certain people – or pieces of trash! – haven’t seen or felt ever in their life.” Every song on this record has its own story with a number of perspectives to view them from. Whale Watching is a story of isolation told from the eyes of a fish that’s been swallowed by a whale and is trying to find a way out. It’s Too Cold Tonight is about watching foxes playing outside, the song’s narrator trying to work out – as Mattheisen explains – whether they’re “glowing so bright from the happiness that you don’t have, or if it’s headlights coming towards them”. Putting the different and ambitious approach to the lyrics aside, every song is musically brilliant and has more than enough going on to keep both old and new listeners of the band happy. Applause flaunts the bands technical wizardry whilst also boasting a catchy chorus and cleverly placed dynamic changes. Wishbone feels like a more musically proficient and emo-tinged Blink 182, sounding like something that could’ve easily slotted onto their self titled album. My favourite, though, is Caution. An absolute masterclass in how to build suspense and then blow people’s minds with a beautiful guitar tapping section.
To say I’m impressed with this record is an understatement. I thought that Swell was incredibly refreshing to listen to, both on the first listen and every listen after that. It has flashes of familiarity, yet I found myself not really being able to put my finger on what it is that’s familiar. And then it hit me; this record makes me feel nostalgic. I’ve seen a lot of people referring to them as an “emo revival” band, and I can definitely see that. If you’ve ever listened to The Fall Of Troy you’ll notice their influence on this band almost immediately, opting to use that same occasionally technical and twiddly approach to the music whilst marrying it with catchy vocals and memorable melodies. But I think if these guys had been a part of the emo takeover that happened around a decade ago, they wouldn’t have been noticed. This is their time, and I’m hoping and praying that this is the first of many bands like this that start to creep out from under the woodwork. This is exactly what I think music needs right now. Positive, feel good, ambitious, catchy and downright brilliant music. Bravo, Tiny Moving Parts. Bravo.
Also, if I ever do have a ginger cat, I’ll call it Nell and show it this album. You have my word.
Buy it here: