Review Summary: sending applause to your heart strings.
Tiny Moving Parts is probably the most unique band of their ilk, perhaps even just because how much they’ve been able to consistently change their sound with seemingly every project over the years. Sure, it’s always been generally in the realm of emo, but Tiny Moving Parts have been one of the only bands that have been able to legitimately cross to every corner and back of emo and be able to do it successfully. This Couch Is Long and Full of Friendship
was more of a familiar emo revival debut, with the traditional Snowing-isms and the overbearing American Football worship more than present than later material. They then managed to transition quite elegantly into math-emo with their sophomore outing Pleasant Living
in 2014 before going straight up emo-pop punk in the vain of Jeff Rosenstock on 2016’s phenomenal maturation Celebrate
. So to pinpoint where the collective would go next was quite a shot in the dark, as the imminent fear a lot of emo tinged bands get around this time rolls up as most “classic” emo bands break up after they write their second record, let alone their third or fourth. And to defy almost all expectations, Tiny Moving Parts have blossomed in an unforeseen yet sensible progression from 2016’s Celebrate
with a full blown emo-revival-meets-pop record on Swell.
The approach that Swell
takes is still distinctly Tiny Moving Parts, don’t get me wrong, but the overall quality and tone of their sound has a brand new sheen to it, complete with thoughtfully constructed instrumentation, refined arrangements between the three members, and the song structures are more intricate than ever before. The band certainly showed flairs of clever song composition with modern-punk staples such as “Always Focused”, “Headache”, or even “Dakota” from their previous efforts, but the band has struggled to maintain sheer consistency throughout an entire record until now. With Swell
, Tiny Moving Parts have bloomed from their youthful and humble beginnings into a cool, calculated, and confident project with interesting takes on emo that sound neither too familiar nor too esoteric. They’ve mixed an entirely different crockpot of sounds that I can only really accurately describe as Remo Drive meets Enter Shikari, maybe with some Pixies and some of the more eclectic Bomb The Music Industry! sprinkled on top, and I mean that as wholeheartedly as I can mean it. The synthesizers and more explored instrumentation makes for a significantly improved and refined sound, with Tiny Moving Parts carving out their sound once and for all. From the opener and lead single “Applause” you can hear the fluidity of their progression through the familiar pop choruses and math-influenced lead guitar by Dylan Mathieson as he cranks out hook after hook with the Chevalier brothers carrying the rest of the sound off into the sunset onto Swell
The other formerly untouched aspects of Tiny Moving Parts’ music such as the lyric-based songwriting and the instrumentation/techniques have also gotten a new makeover as Dylan’s writings have gotten more abstract and existential, evoking messages of transcendentalism and romanticism into the familiar teenage-angst already present that we still hold within us. Tracks like “Malfunction” still take genre tropes like the aforementioned teenage-angst into consideration, but make them so much fun and more entertaining than any other Brand New/Taking Back Sunday rip-off has taken them in the past decade. The simultaneous maturity shown through their steadfast rise in emo’s prominence only gives more credit to what these guys are displaying here. The band have also incorporated more conventional guitar leanings occasionally as well as the dominantly placed synthesizers that trickle all over songs like “Smooth Out”, “Wishbone”, and perhaps most notably on the album’s closer, “Warm Hand Splash” which sees the band experiment into grander music territories while Dylan cathartically cries out at topics of loss and uncertainty (even when you think you’re right) as the piece builds into a triumphant break that solidifies Tiny Moving Parts as not only the torchbearer emo has been looking for, but the torchbearer that the entire alternative/indie scenes have needed for a while now. The chords ring louder, clearer, and the cries of friendship may not be omnipresent, but this couch will always remain long and resuscitated as long as Dylan, Matt, and Will keep trudging along with their dreams on the horizon and keep the idea of slowing down on the back burner.