So, confession time: I have owed you all this glowing recommendation for this tremendously bright, angular slice of Midwestern autumnal ennui since late this summer. Why is it coming now when there’s snow on the ground in the places that generated this soundtrack to an albeit energetic fit of depression? It’s “album of the year” season and I’d be remiss to not slide this into your veritable musical DMs as the curtain closes on 2019.
The truth is back when I received an advance copy (big thanks – and apologies – to the friends at Hopeless!) of Tiny Moving Parts’ breathe. – a charmingly jangly, technical take on emo – it hit the feels so hard that I actually *did* go into a depressive episode. The thing about that, though, is that it was more a testament to how much anyone who’s ever gone through “stuff” is likely to have some of the residue from this album stick to you in that way that makes you say “fuck… somebody actually understands.” And it’s this flash of aural empathy that makes Tiny Moving Parts such a revelation and treasure for emo, punk, post-rock or whatever other genre tries to claim them in any given moment.
“Medicine” is a powerful standout in the technical aspects that make the band instrumentally compelling while Dylan Mathiessen lands, time and again, on the line “I can’t spend another weekend at a funeral” just one of the stark points throughout breathe. that will likely land like a hammer no matter what stage of life the listener occupies. “Icicles (Morning Glow)” delivers something harsher, a tad bit heavier lean to the song itself, evident in the urgent screams of Mathiessen, “I am terrified of losing you.” Then, the third song in this particular sequence, “Vertebrae”, acts a lot more like a “standard” indie rock song with strings lingering in the background and a banjo emerging in later stages as a pastiche of lost love goes by, “I loved you more than I love myself.” All laments anyone can identify with.
Tiny Moving Parts have always sort of occupied this territory of a technically evolved rendition of the lineage of bands such as the Get Up Kids, Cap’n Jazz, the Promise Ring, and Braid though I hesitate to hew them too closely to those bands so as to not insinuate any sort of copycat-ism. Instead, it’s more growth through amalgamation. Part of that is down to what this unit does together, sonically. Bill and Matthew Chevalier, the fraternal drums and bass playing duo that lets Mathiessen go nuts is the spine of the band and absolutely integral to what makes them so potent in a genre (genres?) that often sags under the weight of so many bands that do variations of “loud-soft-loud”.
breathe. never sinks and, indeed, finds a moment on “I Can’t Shake” within its choppy rhythms and sung-to-screaming vocals where a simple, exasperated “fuck” sums up every frustration, large and small, thematically presented on the album. The album sort of has a metronomic back-and-forth tug-of-war audibly and emotionally that might best be exemplified by “Light Bulb” but it’s definitely a theme throughout the whole affair. Ultimately, breathe. wants “to exist in your heart just a little bit” but what Tiny Moving Parts have accomplished here is a document that should live a lot longer with you than that. Lord knows it’s been lingering with me for months now until I finally found the words to tell you all about it. Sorry it took so long but if you haven’t already, then hey, listen to Tiny Moving Parts’ breathe.