Tiny Kingdoms – ‘Realms’

By Chris Hilson

Since the release of their first single, Tiny Kingdoms have been spoiling fans of emotional and intelligent alternative music with a series of consistently brilliant EPs, one-off songs, and compilation appearances. Yet despite building a sizeable fan-base and gigging all around North America, they have held back from recording the musical rite of passage that is the debut album.

You would think the fact that a traditional length album has, so far, remained tantalisingly out of reach would be frustrating, but if anything it’s proved to be the complete opposite. Previous EP ‘I’ll Wait Around’ saw Tiny Kingdoms leave the amps at home and go acoustic, and it marked a maturing of their songwriting and musical ability.

‘Realms’ finds them back on familiar amplified territory, and ‘Cloverdale’ immediately provides a musical cocktail of the familiar and the new, topped with fine songwriting. The lyrical hook of “back to the water, back to the water” will get stuck in your head for days if not weeks, but ‘Cloverdale’ is more than just a hook; it’s a statement of intent that sets the scene for the rest of ‘Realms’ to follow.

‘Super Moon’ is another stamp of high quality that once again demonstrates Tiny Kingdoms’ ability to write instantly memorable songs as routinely as most of us breathe. The EP title ‘Realms’ conjures up images of different places and times each with their own identity, and so it is that each song sounds unique but also like part of a bigger musical picture. For example ‘Vices’ allows Nico to add unfiltered emotion to the lyrics whilst also providing a cathartic feeling of release among the rising guitars and driving drums.

‘Realms’ is a record that swells and flows through each song as the different phases become the perfect soundtrack to the changing moods and emotions within. ‘Wicked’ is the most obvious change in pace when compared to the other songs, but it still fits with the others perfectly, the reflective nature ending things on a contemplative but ultimately positive note.

Whether it’s desperation to keep up with a dying trend or representative of a lack of ideas, some bands are eager to rush their music out of the studio and onto the internet before it’s even truly finished; but not Tiny Kingdoms, who have so far taken their time to do things in their own way, to their own schedule. Traditional musical formats and milestones are becoming less relevant, but when the songs are as great as these it doesn’t matter. As the way we consume music continues to evolve, it’s exciting to see what Tiny Kingdoms have up their sleeves next.

CHRIS HILSON

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