LP Review; Tiny Moving Parts: “Swell”

“Applause” starts with a small instrumental interlude that is based around the string section. Their melodic content seems to be revolving in a circle, which leads the audience perfectly into the first vocals of the album. After the first vocals of the album are proclaimed, the entire ensemble joins in to produce a full-band sound that is characteristic for the band. Throughout the first verse moving into the chorus, it is heard that band utilizes brief moments of silence before moving into the next section of a phrase. This works well for the band, for it is a musical technique that the band is known for, and it gives the audience something fresh and new. As the band lands into the chorus of the track, the instrumental section falls into the first solid groove of the album, which gives the listeners a sense of comfort, musically speaking. The vocals that are utilized throughout the track resonate in the middle to higher register of the vocalist, for there are moments where he is stretching his vocals to produce an edgier tone; however, there are moments where he softens his approach to provide more conjunct motion in his vocal line. This is a very strong first song for the album, for it gives the audience a lot of music material that is characteristic to the band, and it shows them the level of music they should expect from the album.

 “Smooth It Out” starts with the sound one obtains when plugging in an amp, and from that tone the band shifts to a groove during the very next beat. This groove is comprised of the percussion section providing the steady pulse with small rhythmic interjections at times mixed with a smooth string motive that follows the same repetitive motion. The vocals enter after the groove is well established. Once they enter, they provide a gentle timbre to the song, for at first they remain static in the lower range of the vocalist, which helps them to steadily glide overtop the groove. However, as the selection progresses, the vocalist begins to add fluctuations to his vocal entrances with dashes of his edgier tone to enhance certain words or phrases from time to time. This works well for the artist, for it gives the track a symmetrical baseline as well as keeping the listeners on edge, for they won’t be drowned by one steady color tone. Throughout the middle of the work, the band toys with instrumentation to allow the vocals to resonate in isolation, which helps to let certain phrases ring through the complex texture the band provides. As the band nears the end of the work, it is heard that they add in pauses scarcely to remain true to their style, which alters their groove in those moments; meaning, their groove becomes misshapen in context to of the work, and that gives the audience something truly ornate to hang on to.

“Feel Alive” starts with a cranking groove from the first second of the track. This is created through a dynamic moving percussive motive paired with an intense string melodic idea that lays the foundation, musically, for the piece as a whole. As the band moves through the first verse of the track, it is heard that the ensemble, as a whole, is utilizing homorhythmic figures to enhance the lyrics of the song. To further, there are several moments within the piece where the vocalist is singing the same rhythm that the instrumental section is performing. This is strong for the band, for when it brings the audience’s focus to one melodic figure, and it makes their seconds of silence all the more effective. The vocal contour of this selection remains rather static and within the vocalist’s lower to middle range. There are a few moments when the vocalist switches to his edgier approach; however, most of the selection remains in the smoother technical sound. In the middle of the work, the band includes a small instrumental interlude that goes back and forth with the vocalist providing small interjections. Once the back and forth idea fades, the instrumentation drops to allow the vocalist to solemnly sing “I must’ve lost my train of thought…” After that moment, the instrumental section began to join the vocalist in layers before rising back to the full ensemble to ride to the end of the selection.

 “Caution” starts with a gentle string motive that revolves around the constant strumming of tonic chord members. From here, the vocals enter in soon after in a somber manner. This is the result of the vocalist’s characteristic vocal timbre through his lower to middle range while remaining static within his vocal register. As the band moves towards the first run of the chorus, it is heard that they begin to add in different instrumental members to enhance the texture. Once the chorus is met, the band’s instrumental section is all in, and they are embellishing on the motive that the string section set at the beginning of the work. Additionally, it is heard that the vocalist begins to include more raw vocals throughout the chorus as he begins to yell certain words or phrases, which pairs well with the newly heightened instrumental material that includes the small breaks in sound that the band is known for. Once the band reaches their new energy, they remain there for the majority of the work; however, towards the end of the selection, the band drops in instrumentation to allow the vocals to resonate in isolation in order to provide a dramatic crescendo to crash back into the final run of the chorus to end the piece.

“Wildfire” starts with an upbeat instrumental interlude from the very beginning of the track. The make of this interlude includes aa steady but ornamented percussion line that is complimented by a conjunct string melodic idea. This sits with the audience for a few seconds before the band presents a moment of silence, and then the vocalist enters for the first time within this song. Once the vocals enter, the instrumental section returns to the energetic groove that they set at the beginning of the track. The vocals provide a nice vocal shape to the listeners, for they have a slight rise and fall that gives the audience something pleasing to hold on to. Throughout the chorus of the work, the band uses a call and response method, for the vocalist will sing a vocal idea, and the instrumental section will repeat that same rhythm immediately following it. This tactic is strong for the artist, for it gives their listeners something innovative, and it produces an ornate canonic affect. Towards the middle of the work, the band drops in instrumentation and energy to place focus on a softer melodic idea. This is driven through gentle vocals mixed with a simple string melodic line. The band keeps the vibe at a relaxed level as they begin to transition towards the end of the piece; however, the vocalist begins to intensify his vocals as the hits in the instrumental section begin to grow in aggression to move back to the energy from the beginning of the selection,

 “Whale Watching” starts with a rapid instrumental motive where the percussion section and strings are playing almost identical melodic ideas. Eventually the two subsections of the instrumental unit split to provide their own rhythmic and melodic ideologies; however, the two move back to their unified passages from time to time. This approach allows the band to create a groove that is new to the audience, for they are using different rhythmical techniques to obtain their desired sound. The vocalist enters after the audience is able to grasp onto the melodic idea created by the instrumental section. His vocals are standard for the album thus far: they range well throughout his vocal register, and he utilizes both his edgier and softer vocal techniques. One aspect of this track that is striking is that the band continually drives a rapid groove that makes the song lean forward; however, in random portions throughout the work the band simply drops the instrumentation to allow for a few seconds of a somber moment before transitioning right back to the rapid motive. As the band moves towards the end of the track, they messed with instrumentation to provide textural differences, which led them to their heavy hits as a full ensemble while the vocalist screamed “bring me back”. This made the moment all the more powerful, which made for a resolving ending to the work.

“It’s Too Cold Tonight” starts with vocals from the very first beat of the track in utter isolation. The vocalist’s lyrical content is geared around the title of the piece, and once that is portrayed to the audience, the full instrumental section enters in. Their relationship to the selection at this point lies in several unified, heavy hits that juxtapose the lyrical content until the vocalist eases into the first verse of the work. Once the verse is well established, the instrumental section remains static in presence with fluctuations of texture to create a gentle groove that keeps the work constantly leaning forward while the band transitions to the chorus. Throughout the second verse of the piece, the band primarily uses the percussion section alone with the voice to allow the groove to remain constant while the vocals are able to remain in the spotlight of the track. As the band begins to near the end of the song, a female voice sings a simple melodic line before the traditional voice enters. When the characteristic voice enters, they sit in the middle range, which sits well with the audience, for it produces an overly pleasing sound. From there, the band returns back to the original approach from the beginning of the selection, which will lead the audience eventually through the chorus and to the end of the work.

“Malfunction” starts with a simple groove that is driven by a subtle string motive paired with constant hits by the percussion section: predominantly through a cymbal timbre. Before the first vocals of the track commence, the band provides a grand pause like previous tracks, which helps to provide cohesion, musically speaking, moving throughout the album. The vocals that enter in first utilize the edgier vocal type with small moments of the normal dialect before reaching the chorus. This is strong for the artist, for most of the other pieces on the album focus more on the smoother vocal technique; thus, this gives the audience more of the ornate vocal features that they’ve come to adore. As the band moves from the chorus to another verse, the instrumental section refines their groove to keep the pulse steady as they add differing rhythms here and there to keep the listeners on edge, for they are continually getting semi-altered musical material. It is heard, as one moves throughout the rest of the work, that the band continues to use small moments of silence to transition into new portions of the selection. As the song begins to near its end, the band drops in instrumentation to provide a somber moment before concluding the track.

“Wishbone” starts with an instrumental interlude that puts emphasis on the string section with a gentle percussion motive that lies the foundation for the instrumental material for the work. The lyrics enter in soon after the groove is created. When they enter, it is heard that they are going to lie gently overtop the instrumental material with brief shifts to the tenser vocal type. The band builds upon their texture to enhance their intensity as they grow to arrive at the chorus. Once the band provides a fully orchestrated chorus, they immediately fall back into their softer groove to ride through the second verse of the piece. The second verse follows the same outline as the first verse with additional instrumental inclusions to help the momentum to continue onward. Near the end of the track, the band includes a small instrumental interlude that takes the beginning motive and heightens it right before they lead into the vocalist yelling “may your brain cells swell”. This is significant, for this is the moment when the band is giving their audience a connection to the title of the album, and they are able to do so effectively through their gradual evolution during the selection.

“Warm Hand Splash” starts with a string motive that plays in seclusion while providing a melodic phrase that is broken up by split seconds of silence before repeating the same idea. After the artist allows this to sit with the audience, they vary the string motive before the vocals are introduced. When the vocals crash into the track, the automatically strike the audience, for the vocalist uses his edgy vocal technique at a high dynamic as the full ensemble utilizes weighted hits throughout their melodic figures. As the full ensemble settles in, it is heard that the make of this track is going to resonate through a higher energy, for the band begins to enhance its instrumental material on all fronts as the pace of the piece increases slightly, which helps to keep the audience’s interest. As the band moves throughout the verses and the several repetitions of the chorus, they sparingly switch their instrumental to add textural dimension throughout one of their more dense tracks. This is strong for the band because when they drop in instrumentation to allow the vocalist to shine when the title of the song becomes the leading top of the lyrical content, the audience’s attention is hooked, for they are providing such a high level of musical contrast. As the band rides throughout the middle of the work and sections of the ending, it is heard that they switch to a half-time feel here and there, which gives their audience variety in relation to the groove, which helps them progress to the end of the work. This is a very strong selection to end the album with, for the band uses every characteristic technique that they possess within this work. Also, the band provides their audience with a major level of contrast throughout this single track, which makes it overly dynamic as a stand alone piece.

Final Thoughts: Overall, I would give this album a 5 out of 5 stars. I am giving this album such a score for several reasons. The first reason is that every song on this album is fantastic. I don’t believe there is one song on this album that one could debate the opposition for. The second reason I am landing on this score is that through this album it has become incredibly clear that Tiny Moving Parts has refined their characteristic sound, and they know how to evolve it into something that no one has heard before. Furthermore, if you are looking for what may be the pop punk album of the year: this is it! Fantastic work!

*”Swell” was released on January 26, 2018 through Triple Crown Records.

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