Tiny Moving Parts – ‘breathe’

By Dave Stewart

The days of vision-inhibiting fringes, studded belts and high angled selfies may be in the past, but the love for emo music still lingers today. Just the first few notes of one of your favourite emo jams is powerful enough to cause the butterflies in your stomach to flutter, as every single memory floods your mind, forcing your lips to tremble as they prepare to scream every lyric at high volume. There aren’t many bands still flying the flag for the genre nowadays, but there is one band with a firm grip on it – Tiny Moving Parts. They’ve been churning out tidal waves of emo-tinged jams ever since their inception back in 2008, and brand new album ‘breathe’ shows that they’re gripping onto that flag tighter than ever before.

A lot of the lyrical content orbits around fear of death, specifically vocalist and guitarist Dylan Mattheisen’s mortality and the mental battles he has with himself regarding it. He elaborates on that point, explaining “It’s inevitable – we’re all going to obviously pass away sometime – so it’s really the thought of ‘Have I lived my years to their full potential with the time I’ve had?’ I feel like writing really helps me personally and I feel like it can help others, too – just feeling like, ‘Oh, I’m scared to death of dying, but they’re all scared, too. Why are we all so scared?’ We’ve just got to deal with it, but knowing you’re not alone is a really big thing in this world and I feel like that really helps.”

‘breathe’ picks up exactly where previous record ‘Swell’ left off, utilising their irresistible upbeat sound to get the feet tapping and face grinning. Singles ‘Medicine’ and ‘Bloody Nose’ possess an immediately familiar tone, smothering the senses in a blanket of posi-vibes and infatuating melodies as they ingrain themselves in your brain. The latter is especially addictive, keeping you on your toes as it continuously flows in and out of distortion-heavy soundscapes.

Elsewhere in the record, ‘The Midwest Sky’ wastes no time bursting into a high-energy riff a mere ten seconds in. The following couple of minutes swings through graceful verses and soaring choruses, all expertly decorated with stunning guitar work and heartfelt vocal delivery. More of the same can be found on ‘Icicles (Morning Glow)’ and ‘Polar Bear’, both crammed full of intense chorus crescendos and guitar parts so technical that they make you question exactly how Mattheisen is able to play and sing at the same time.

Some of the shiniest bits of gold can be found in the softer songs, oozing with emotion and producing some honest and moving moments. ‘Vertebrae’ is a fine example of that, softly swaying through stripped back guitar parts, a banjo solo, and occasionally shaky vocal delivery, that all contribute towards an honest and emotionally powerful sucker punch. ‘I Can’t Shake’ follows a similar formula, weaving in additional instrumentation in the form of strings and atmospheric synths to add to the already weighty blow.

Album closer ‘Hallmark’ is the runaway gem here, though. It’s a song that addresses the small comfort – whether real, false, or perhaps both – that a Get Well Soon card can bring to someone dying of cancer. A very heavy subject to end a record with, but it’s beautifully delivered. The music rises and falls to mirror the turmoil in the lyrics, driving the passion outward and closing on a sombre and thoughtful note with Mattheisen uttering the words “an envelope could never fix you, but it’s strange how I’d like to think so.” This record is fun and joyous in so many places, but above all else it’s comforting, tightly hugging you and letting you know that it’s okay to feel the way you feel.

Tiny Moving Parts have a charm about them that’s impossible not to be seduced by. No matter how sensitive or serious the subject matter, their music carries good vibes in abundance that gently wash over you as you sink deeper and deeper into their arms. ‘breathe’ shines a spotlight on that quality, managing to make poignant and widely relatable topics easier to think about and absorb. The hand they’re stretching out is a genuine one, and the way they deliver their message makes it all the easier to reach back. If you’re yet to fall in love with this band, prepare to fall head over heels.


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