Have you ever wondered what Tiny Animals sound like when spun at a high RPM? A little too much like mainstream pop rock, in my opinion. Tiny Animals’, the New York City trio, has released their first full-length album entitled Sweet Sweetness. Lead guitarist and vocalist Chris Howerton is the primary writer on the album and owner behind the releasing label, North Street Records. The production and mixing of the album, done by guru Claudius Mittendorfer, is airtight and comes across as a little too polished. Though excellent in execution, I would have preferred a looser production allowing for a rougher, edgier sound.
This album is full of poppy rhythms and riffs with catchy lyrics. Though the lyrics have some predictability and are reflective of the current state of the pop rock/emo movement, they are well conceived. Cuts like “Youth Today” and “Useless” offer a sound that is indicative of tunes seeing regular radio and TV play. “Avalanche”, “Scarlet”, and “Is This The Last Time?” are three stand-outs on Sweet Sweetness. “Avalanche” ties thought-provoking lyrics to a memorable score, “Scarlet” offers some excellent guitar work in the last two minutes of the song ,with an interesting concluding breakdown, and “Is This The Last Time?” is catchy, highlighting percussionist Rita Maye Howertons’ harmonies with her brother Chris.
The major deviation from an otherwise cohesive album is “Freedom of Choice,” written by M. Mothersbaugh and G.V. Casale of DEVO. This cut completely counters the album and serves nothing but to offer as a speed bump in an otherwise well laid release. It is unmistakably DEVO.
Tiny Animals has done a superb job at honing a tight sound that builds off of bands like Incubus, Blink-182, MGMT, and the like, but seems to lack a little individual creativity behind the lyrics and overall sound. This release is such that it lends itself well to radio and TV play, and will likely have cuts in regular rotation; however, a little distinction in sound will be necessary for this band to set itself apart from the pack.Two things that favor Tiny Animals are their use of layered sounds and syncopated rhythms giving them uniqueness and a hook. Other attributes would be Chris’ strong vocals and the percussion and Rita’s precision playing and abrupt tempo changes.
While Sweet Sweetness is good, it is marred by desperation for a top 40 hit. Tiny Animals are a good band with potential, but will struggle with being swallowed by the scores of similar acts.
Sweet Sweetness is out now on North Street Records.