CD Review: Miniature Tigers — Tell It To The Volcano

Miniature Tigers
Tell It to the Volcano

By Alexandra Edwards

In recent years, a
particular subgenre of indie cinema has developed: cute and quirky films centered
around offbeat, slightly strange boys who defy all previous tenants of
masculinity. Think Zach Braff's character in Garden State, pretty much
any role Michael Cera has ever played on the big screen, or, more recently,
Joseph Gordon-Levitt's turn in 500 Days of Summer. These skinny, geeky,
slacker-ish boys make for compelling narrators (at least, they do in the midst
of our turn-of-the-21st-century ennui). And now, with the release of Miniature
Tigers' Tell It to the Volcano, indie music finally has its own version
of the story.

The lyrics are so charmingly offputting that they can't
help but grab attention.  From the very first line of album opener "Cannibal
Queen," it's clear that listeners are in for a unique look at love, sex, and the
weirdness of females ("This is not a test or an SOS / I'm no longer on a quest
to get girls undressed"). Frontman Charlie Brand's opinion of the fairer sex is
harsh at times; on "Last Night's Fake Blood" he sings, "You're just another evil
girl I will have to forget." But given the references to shrunken heads and
potions, maybe he really does mean "evil" in a demonic sense. Regardless, it's
hard to take the insults entirely seriously, especially since Brand is just as
often the target of his own attacks. "Like or Like-Like," for example, opens
with a whole verse on the narrator's terrible fashion choices. That sense of
playfulness, of wit mixed with self-deprecation and given over to a killer rhyme
scheme, is the thread that ties the album together, even as the band mixes up
its instrumentation from track to track.

Musically, the band is best when
they sidestep the traditional twee-pop sound and purposefully surprise the
listener. "Like or Like-Like" features an unlikely Cardigans-esque chorus that
is one of the strongest moments on the album.  Then there is the old Hollywood
weirdness of "Haunted Pyramid," and the videogame synths appearing briefly on
"Cannibal Queen" and "Hot Venom." But even for all the thrills of these
unexpected moments, the overall impression is of a band whose sound sprang
fully-formed from the members' minds. There are no sonic missteps here, no
moments of uncertainty.

It's not that Miniature Tigers have made the
perfect songs to score the next Michael Cera or Zach Braff movie — rather,
they've made the actual secret soundtrack playing inside these boys' heads.  And
it's fantastic.

Miniature Tigers play with Kevin Devine, Sarah Jaffe and Brian Bonz at Vinyl Friday, May 8. You can win tickets to this show here, or you can buy tickets here.


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