Thursday, July 29, 2010

Miniature Tigers album review

Photo credit: Brandon Lee

Miniature Tigers
(Modern Art)
Grade: A-

Simultaneously weird and wonderful, Miniature Tigers makes dreamy indie pop that unveils more layers after repeated listens. On 2008 debut Tell it to the Volcano, the Brooklyn via Phoenix band utilized a sparse musical approach with playfully sardonic lyrics and was often compared to early Death Cab for Cutie and Shins.

Sophomore effort Fortress finds them expanding that sonic framework through collaborations with Morning Benders’ Chris Chu and Texas electronic outfit Neon Indian. Lead singer/guitarist Charlie Brand isn’t as sharp tongued as before, but his fragile voice still meshes well with the eclectic, floating melodies.

Everything kicks off with “Mansion of Misery,” an endearingly eerie departure inspired by a viewing of “The Shining” that includes crashing cymbals, wailing guitars and assorted odd noises. The frontman has cited Grizzly Bear and Dirty Projectors as kindred spirits.

That’s evident during the upbeat “Bullfighter Jacket,” led by a delirious group chant and glorious falsetto break. “Lolita” fluctuates between classical piano, fluttering vocalizations and a tropical island guitar vibe. “Coyote Enchantment” is blissful danceable fun, as a luxurious female voice repeats the title and the stomping “Rock ‘n’ Roll Mountain Troll” finds Brand singing about being “stoned at 3 a.m./talking to myself in public/I think I really hit a low.” But “Gold Skull,” awash in blipping synths and distant vocals, is the real highlight.

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