Tiny Moving Parts Double Down on Guitar Mastery and Emo Vocals on New Self-Titled Album

4.7 out of 5 stars

Tiny Moving Parts is an “emo” indie rock band from Minnesota that has put out some ridiculously good music over the years. They have put out 7 previous albums since 2008, and on their 8th studio album which is self titled Tiny Moving Parts, the band has built on what they have already done, and tightened up a few things along the way as well.

I think the first thing I should start with prefacing this review is that if you do NOT play guitar, then you may not quite understand how good lead singer/guitarist Dylan Mattheisen is. 

There are not many guitar players out there who can utilize tapping, sweep-picking and other high-level guitar techniques WHILE also singing the songs as he plays these insanely technical fills and leads.

The band is still relatively young, and they are also actually related as drummer William Chevalier and his brother Matt Chevalier are cousins of Mattheisen.

It’s a pretty familiar story for bands in the Midwest as high-level musicians that are DEDICATED are hard to come by. So, generally, it is best to find people who won’t abandoned you once things get going.

And, things are definitely going for Tiny Moving Parts.

Having just finished both an EU/UK tour AND a U.S. Tour this year already, they are heading to Australia early next year (just in time to escape the end of a long Midwest winter).

One thing that seems to be different about this album is that it is not on a record label as far as I can tell. The band had previously released a couple of albums on Hopeless Records and before that Triple Crown Records.

The new album is basically a highlight reel for Mattheisen’s guitar skills, but the lyrics are also quite incredible as well.

I think my “one-liner” for this album might be something like, “You know exactly what you are going to get from this album with personal lyrics, unfathomable guitarwork, and emotional vocal performances - which are the cornerstones of many great emo and indie rock bands over the years.”

The album starts off with a burner of a track in “Decibel,” and it is one of my favorites on the album. The analogy of using a decibel in relation to the “voice” of the speaker and how it is lost in a louder crowd is quite interesting to me. Very poetic.

North Shore” is another really good song. The guitar fills between the bridge and chorus are insane. Also, for anyone who likes traditional emo vocals (a bit of high pitch, a bit of scream, a bit of gruff), this is a pretty good example to showcase the vocals.

Demons Are Taking Over” will definitely go down as one of the fan favorites on the album, I think. It’s one of the more anthemic songs on the album, for sure.

The next song on the album “Tangled Up” is a bit bi-polar as it goes from moments of rage to tender solos and soft vocals. It works quite well too.

I think “Jotting Notes” is probably my favorite song on the album. It has a pop-punk sentiment behind it with that classic “math rock” sound that the band is known for as well. 

I will say that this is at least the second time on the album to this point where the lyrics question the “hardships” of existing as if to sort of assume that there should be a life without resistance. It’s seemingly a rhetorical question, but if it is a sincere question, well, as they always say, “Life sucks, and then you die.” Ha ha…well, maybe not that pessimistically.

The guitar on “Downhill Spiral” is aptly made to sound like a spiral at times, and the nice use of the stereo effect at times is pretty cool too. I am not sure who the subject is talking about in the song, but it does seem a BIT overly dramatic on this one even though I like the song.

For the song “All My Guts” I was initially going to say that it reminds me of Taking Back Sunday to a high degree, and then I also remembered that Fred Mascherino (Taking Back Sunday, The Color Fred) had a hand in production on this song. It’s done really well. It’s probably the most raw sounding song as far as getting to the crux of the meaning of the song lyrically and emotionally.

Day Drunk” is likely an isolation song if I had to guess. Basically, the idea is that since there is nothing to do during isolation, you may as well just drink and ponder life. “Nothing matters anymore.”

Bad Trip” is kind of in the same vein except talking about a bad trip as an analogy of drugs mixed with the “trip of life.” So, from what I can understand, it is not clearly stating that it is a drug-induced experience, but it is instead a “bad trip” for an entire life. 

The last song on this 10-song album is “12345” which I assume is a nod to the “math rock” label that the band has had hung upon them. I am not certain if this song is in ⅝ time or not, because that is always a bit hard to tell without knowing for sure, but it definitely seems like it to me. It helps that Mattheisen actually counts out the beats, but that could just be a sped up 4 beat too.

The whole album can do one of two things, in my opinion:

1 - If you hate math, emo or indie rock, it will reinforce the reasons why you hate it - passionate, emotional, super technical.
2 - If you like math, emo or indie rock, it will reinforce the reasons why you like it - passionate, emotional, super technical.

So, there you have it. For no other reason than strict curiosity, I think everyone should check this album out. It is worth some time in your brain.