Reviews

Math (rock) is cool: A review of Tiny Moving Parts’ ‘Swell’

Describing a band as cool can sound lazy and particularly trite. But in this instance, Tiny Moving Parts’ latest album Swell is well worth the applause, and simply cool.

The three-piece Minnesotan outfit — made up of brothers William Chevalier and Matthew Chevalier and cousin Dylan Mattheisen — masterfully blends the “pop post-hardcore” influences of Thursday and Senses Fail with The Fall of Troy’s math rock guitar riffs, and manages to display hints of mid 2000’s pop punk with some of their melodies.

Let’s go over my three favorite songs from Swell. 

“Caution”

The caution tape wrapped around my brain
Has continued to stay
A constant strain right behind my face
I’m still waiting for a slight break
For a slight break

This is perhaps the best song off Swell to introduce to a friend who wants a sample of Tiny Moving Parts. It is both desperate and powerful, fast-paced and sweet. TMP proves capable of writing a song that expands to specific genuine emotions, while maintaining its relatable nature.

My only complaint is the all-too-short appearance of the bells during the outro of the song. WHY ISN’T THIS LONGER? It’s absolutely perfect for the song, and is one of the many moments in the album that makes you want to get up and move.

P.S. The Music video — featuring a Nintendo Switch cameo and a couple janitors — is worth the watch.

“It’s Too Cold Tonight”

I gotta be worth something
I gotta be
I gotta be worth something
I gotta be
(I gotta be)

TMP shows their best self-deprecating, inward-looking selves with this sub-3-minute punchy tune. The lyrics themselves are borderline troublesome — say if you were to hear a good friend speak like this — but because of the song’s construction, it took me a couple of playthroughs to give attention to the depression exemplified throughout.

The song quickly ends with the lyrics “Call for help,” but paradoxically, the intro guitar riff keeps bringing me back, losing myself in the music over the message.

“Malfunction”

Resurrect my aching cells
Let’s restart my aging health

My apartment complex has bluetooth speakers inside the showerheads, and lately, I’ve been throwing on “Malfunction” in the morning. The tune is so short that I’m already a minute done with shampoo by it’s conclusion, but it keeps the energy up heading to work.

Perhaps the album’s most pop-punk-esque tune, this is the kind of song that would’ve made my 15-year-old self want to learn guitar. With three main power chords in its brief chorus, it’s both digestible and catchy.

 

One could say there is a ceiling on how big math rock or this new wave of emo bands can be. One could also say it’s disingenuous to loop a band into a genre just for lazy, convenient categorization. Either way, it’s impossible to deny that Tiny Moving Parts hit it out of the park with this album.

Moving forward, there’s no reason to expect anything less than more punchy, technically-sound tunes, filled with moments of catharsis, palpable emotional spontaneity, and even some danceable melodies.

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