Review: Tiny Moving Parts, ‘Pleasant Living’
I was in a very strange place in my life when I first listened to Tiny Moving Parts. I was between going to school and working full time, and for whatever reason all I wanted to listen to was La Dispute and the like. I’m not sure who or what convinced me that Tiny Moving Parts fit that mold, but at that point in my life I would have fought you if you said otherwise. I remember downloading ‘This Couch Is Long & Full of Friendship’ and showing it to the three people I talked to about music at the time. I had fallen in love. Can you blame me? There is such a charming quality to Dylan Mattheisen’s voice and in terms of the actual music – the way these guys play is mind blowing.
Fast forward almost two years and we’re at the release of their Triple Crown Records debut, ‘Pleasant Living.’ In the two years between the releases, the guys in Tiny Moving Parts have done some obvious growing. Dylan’s performance on this record is more-so actual singing and the music as a whole just feels much more fleshed out. Saying that I was blown away by this record would be a gross understatement. Tiny Moving Parts have exceeded all expectations with the release of ‘Pleasant Living’ and its only a matter of time before the right people start to take notice.
Album opener “Sundress” kicks the record off in perfect fashion. The energy that we’ve come to expect from a Tiny Moving Parts record is alive and well in the first track, and Mattheisen’s passionate vocal delivery carries you through the song with ease. This same energy carries through into the next song, “Always Focused.” “Always Focused” was released as the first of three singles on this record, and even though the song came out months ago; it still sounds incredibly fresh.
One of the strongest tracks on this record, and easily my favorite Tiny Moving Parts songs to date is “Fourth Of July.” I found myself lost in the lyrics of this track on my first listen through. They paint such a vivid picture, and musically the song is just as enchanting. I had goosebumps the first time I heard Mattheisen belt out “Let’s run away/Run away/Four walls build a cage.” There is something so special about this track. “I Hope Things Go The Way I Hope” is a song I could go either way on. I’m not in love with the song, but I don’t actively hate it either. It’s just there.
Things start to really pick up again with “Movies.” I loved this song before I heard a single lyrics. From the first second I heard the music start, I knew that this was going to be one of my favorite tracks on this record. It’s got such a funky quality to it, and it’s such a phenomenally executed track on all ends. That shouty “Can we please turn on a movie/I need something to distract me” makes this track just feel so alive. One of the best they’ve ever written, and it’s one that I think everyone needs to hear. “Boxcar” is another album highlight. I was blown away when this song was initially released as a single, because it was so fresh sounding. The conversational lyrics and that fantastic, fast paced music were exactly what I needed to hear at that point. I love this track just as much as I did a month ago. The last four songs on the record are just jam after jam; making up for the couple of songs I could do without on the first half of the record.
“Spring Fever” is just relentless from start to finish. The track is just packed full of energy, and I could see it going over very well live. Which is how I think Tiny Moving Parts really writes their records. I think they’re meant to be experienced live more-so than they are to be enjoyed through headphones. When I first heard “Entrances & Exits” I was nervous that it was going to be a third slow song. I have a hard time with their slower material. I don’t know why, it’s just harder for me to digest.
Thankfully, the slow beginning was just a build up into an explosive middle section that does just that. Exploding right into “Skinny Veins.” This is one of my four must hear songs on the record. It’s the incredible riff that makes the song the masterpiece that it is. Listen to it; thank me later. The song has classic written all over it. Album closer “Van Beers” is the only slower song on the record that I’m really in love with. Mattheisen’s vocals channel a young Max Bemis, and the horn section towards the end over the harmonized “Enough is never quite enough/Unless we cherish what is given to us” rounds out the album so well, that I couldn’t help but fall in love. I’m a sucker for horns and male/female harmonies. What a perfect way to end the record.
“Pleasant Living” is an album that showcases a new era for Tiny Moving Parts. The songwriting has improved dramatically, and while I couldn’t find myself attached to the slower songs; the fact they exist is enough to prove that. Whether you like them or not, Tiny Moving Parts knows how to write passionate songs. “Pleasant Living” is leaps and bounds over what I expected to be the next Tiny Moving Parts album. Make sure you pick this record up. You’re not going to want to miss out. 4/5