Review Summary: I care a little too much
Consistency is the easiest virtue to feel cynicism toward - it’s not flashy, it’s not sexy, and it can be hard to get excited about it. Albums that shatter expectations often make headlines, and bands that constantly evolve their sound tend to get the most applause. But putting out great album after great album with only minor tweaks to one’s sound, while maintaining a high level of quality is arguably more difficult and more impressive. Four albums deep, Tiny Moving Parts’ sound hasn’t changed all that much. The technical tapping riffs and arpeggios are still ridiculous, the lyrics are still raw and underdeveloped, and Tiny Moving Parts deserve to be praised for their consistency as Swell
manages to live up to a strong discography without taking any major risks.
There's so much heart to the band's sound, every song has a blistering pace, even the more melancholy tracks are bright and exuberant. It’s still just as fun to hear Dylan Matheson's guitar wizardry, like the crazy finger picking in "Whale Watching", and the tapping in “Feel Alive” and think to myself “Holy shit, he plays that and sings at the same time!” The lyrics remain the weakest link in the band. “I care a little too much” perfectly encapsulates Dylan’s lyrics, it’s silly and overblown, but in a charming non-confrontational kind of way as the lyrics are merely supplemental to the music. Tiny Moving Parts' production is the best it's ever been the arrangements on Swell
are so lush, and there are so many satisfying little flourishes like the keyboard in "Smooth It Out” and “Whale Watching” and the horns in "Warm Hand Splash." Tiny Moving Parts continue to do what they do best because if it’s not broke, don’t fix it.
It's easy to overlook how impressive Swell
is because there's nothing shocking, Tiny Moving Parts have been excelling for four straight albums. They get away with experimenting very little because they replace full-scale growth with exceptional and consistent musicianship. Four great, albeit similar albums in a row, It becomes necessary to ask “Are Tiny Moving Parts too consistent for their own good? Could they possibly craft a masterpiece if they ventured outside of the box a bit more?” I think it’s fair to say that their run of consistency is unsustainable, eventually, the returns will be diminished. If Swell
was the band’s 10th release things would definitely be stale, but as a fourth album, and with songs like "Caution" and "Warm Hand Splash" being possibly the band’s best songs to date, it’s hard to argue that Swell
isn’t as good as it gets for a band at this stage of their career.