Math rock is not the type of music I’d listen to if I wanted to hum something completely lighthearted and singalong-y. Or so I thought, until I hooked myself up to TINY MOVING PARTS’ “Swell”. The Minnesota native family band, which consists of two brothers and their cousin (William and Matthew Chevalier, Daniel Mattheisen) have proved to be the midwestern math rock scene’s up and rising gem with each and every of their releases so far. Four full length albums into their discography it’s hard to describe TINY MOVING PARTS as “up and rising” or “hidden gem” (emphasis on “hidden”) anymore. Somehow, after each of their release you are left with feeling they still have unlimited potential. “Swell” is no exception.
In case you are not familiar with TINY MOVING PARTS’ music let me try and break it down for you. Sparkly, tapping filled lead guitars, post hardcore-y chord progressions, proggy and sometimes mathy drumming with dramatic pauses and fills, and sappy vocal melodies with even sappier lyrics on top of them. “Swell” is no stranger to these concepts, but this time the band tried a slightly different approach that cuts both ways. The songs in this album are “poppier” and easier to get into, with singalongy parts and some melodic female vocals in a couple of songs that honestly compliment the band a lot, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they used them more in the future. All the other elements that gave TINY MOVING PARTS their trademark sound are still there, only a tad watered down in favor of more emphasis in choruses and the songs being more catchy in general, with “Caution” being my personal favorite.
That being said and while I honestly enjoyed the album a lot, I feel that with this new style, while it’s a step in the right direction, they took a few steps too far towards it. I’m all about memorable melodies (I mean, who isn’t) but the musical sweet spot of TINY MOVING PARTS lies somewhere in between the two styles in my opinion. When they figure that out, then they’ll truly start utilizing their whole potential.
Production-wise there’s not much to say. Mix and production are pretty much flawless as I truly couldn’t trace any weak spots whatsoever.
“Swell” might not be TINY MOVING PARTS’ best album, but it might prove to be their breakthrough work thanks to how accessible it is. If you were not familiar with the Minnesota trio, this album might be perfect to get into their music. I’m pretty sure their best days are still ahead of them and bigger things will come eventually. Until then, I can confidently say, this album’s pretty swell!