Review: Tiny Moving Parts / Kite Party / Say Anything
by Chad Jewett
Tiny Moving Parts – “Fair Trade”
“Fair Trade,” our newest listen from Minnesota emo trio Tiny Moving Parts (from their split with Connecticut post-hardcore favorites Old Gray), covers considerable ground in three minutes. Considering the long-drives that define the mid-west, perhaps its fuel efficiency; economy. Beginning as a straight-ahead burst of curling pop punk (albeit in a modified 7/4 structure, giving the ultra-bright guitars a complicating angularity and lending the song its best moments) the track spends some time in a bursting, algebraic verse (chords arrive in call-and-response slabs, almost randomly placed) before swelling into a cresting coda. The bulk of “Fair Trade” is built around a compelling back and forth between singers Dylan Mattheisen and Matthew Chevalier, who variably trade lines and finish each other’s sentences, a knotted-up post-hardcore version of Blink-182’s “Pathetic” (finally). That neither Mattheisen nor Chevalier can necessarily carry a melody gives the song a charming everyman quality, lends pathos to lyrics concerned with uncertain horizons, insecurities, and present frustrations (“I suppose the future is sick / We are mannequins dressed with perfection”). It’s actually tough to capture all of the different landscapes playing out on “Fair Trade”: the rolling churn of drums at the song’s middle-section, the short pauses of pristine, almost Afro-pop-esque guitar frills, the waltzing cascade that spans the song’s latter half before an explosive ending, beginning, in adolescent high-drama, with the words “Dear Mom and Dad.” Some of this has hardened into emo boiler plate (the Cap’n Jazz scatter of the first verse especially), but whenever a part feels trite, you only have to wait a measure or two for Tiny Moving Parts to try something else; you’re sure to like most of it.
Kite Party – “Supervillain”
Philadelphia’s Kite Party specialize in sounding effortless. The downside of that aesthetic – defined by slow-trickling guitars, cloudy reverb, and soft-focus haze – can be a certain sleepy quality, melodies arriving coated in molasses and the uncanny hang over of dreams (“Summery Dream,” an earlier listen from the band’s upcoming LP, Come On Wondering battled with this – its title is indicative). But the upside of all of that is a song like “Supervillian,” a cotton-y equinox pop interlude that seems to simply fall into place as if on the business end of a magic wand. Singer Russell Edling finds an affecting descending melody, a perfect bit of college rock tunefulness that lays amongst the song’s springy bass and chiming, bleary guitars like sunlight leaking through early foliage. Eventually, a solo echoes that melody (we’ll call it “Rivers Cuomo-ing”), the song finds its way to an outro, still largely built out of long lines of melody, fine details of a tangled wash-line of guitars, then ends with an abrupt ping of echo. The whole thing is unassuming, pleasant, an enjoyable respite of atmosphere. Kind of like spring. Kind of perfect.
Say Anything – “Six Six Six”
“Six Six Six,” the deeply-baroque, ornately melodic new single from Say Anything, is built almost entirely on pomp and provocation. Max Bemis, the band’s central nervous system and only constant member, piles on sacrilege (a trick of the trade for Bemis, which can frequently grow tiresome), at various points comparing himself to Satan and Christ only to later plead “Lord help me” — all to the tune of the kind of string-orchestra starbursts that are normally used to garnish Stars or Belle & Sebastian tracks (or even a mid-60s Motown A-Side). Except here they fill the song’s space till its ripe to burst. Bemis has made a career out of songs and albums that find compelling tension between the angels and devils on his shoulders, between whispering and shouting, and indeed, “Six Six Six” offers its most moving interlude when the Wall-of-Sound blankets ebb away for Bemis to almost whisper “It’s alright, it’s alright” – the kind of hopeful deep-breath that made Cursive’s Ugly Organ so poignant. After a decade with Say Anything, whose later records never reached the initial, gleefully acerbic peak of the band’s 2004 breakthrough …Is A Real Boy, it’s hard to know exactly what to do with “Six Six Six,” a song whose radiant waves of rich, orchestral harmony are utterly gorgeous, and whose impish mood-swings are quickly calcifying. Indeed, the reason that short, quiet pause, wherein Bemis seems to drop the act for a moment, if only to reassure himself or someone off-screen, might be the song’s best moment is because it comes as a relief. Say Anything could learn from the sincerity that swells in those violins and cellos – Bemis’s brand of irony doesn’t have the greatest shelf-life. Perhaps it’s time to try earnestness?