Friday, 6 January 2012

Tiny Planets - 'The Trick Is To Keep Breathing' Review

Tiny Planets
Philophobia Music

Recent explorations through the archives of Rhubarb Bomb led me to find a review of the first ever Tiny Planets gig, which took place on 5th September, 2009. It was hotly anticipated as they shared members, including singer Craig Newman, with former Wakefield legends The Old House. Without wishing to speak for everyone in attendance, I think that peculiar pop brilliance held by The Old House WAS present, but it was also clear this was something different. At that time, it was hard to tell whether it was a step forward, or sideways, but was promising all the same.

Regardless, there was a definite desire for a record. A free demo and an appearance on a Philophobia Compilation aside, this is that first record. It may have taken along time, but now I hold it before me I am actually glad for the wait. For one, the band have slowly improved over the last 2 or so years. More importantly, the shadow of The Old House has long passed, allowing this to be judged completely on its own merits. So, with that in mind, I command you to delete this paragraph and the last from your brain and begin afresh.

‘The Trick Is To Keep Breathing’ is a 5 track EP by Wakefield alternative rockers Tiny Planets. Initially, it caught me off guard. I think I must stand far stage left at most gigs because my overriding memory from any Tiny Planets gig is the huge crunch of guitarist Ash’s looping squall bashing around my head and making it happy. With a few exceptions (‘I Was Born’) that is less to the forefront than I’d expected. What IS present though is some mighty fine songwriting, delivered with real skill and character.

Opener ‘Jetstreams’ is a great example of this; knowing when to sit back and let the story tell itself with relatively gentle movements, slight intonations in the guitar lines over direct, prowling beats showing utter confidence. The emotional swell bubbles under the surface, carefully released at key points. I guess what I’m saying is that it’s the smart way to rock the fuck out.

Craig’s distinct vocals are key here. He avoids lyrical clich├ęs, but wraps his unlikely musings in the sweetest melodies, with a pinch of melancholy, and a side of optimism. I really connect with that voice; it works for me, but that’s different for everyone. What is clear, taste aside, is the fantastic way which the lead vocal and that lead guitar intertwine; a gorgeous and complimentary duet (‘Islands’ is a great example of this).

If you retrieve those first two paragraphs from your minds recycle bin, I will say that there is a certain ‘Old Wakefield’ vibe to this record, which is NOT to say it is looking backwards. It has charm in bucketloads and an untouchable sense of carefree enjoyment, just in its own existence. It is music for the love of music, the big group vocals of ‘Hardly At All’ and ‘The Trick Is…’ drawing that sense of community and friendship together in uplifting fashion.

But, I hate myself as I write these words. Why does this need to tie in to Wakefield? What has that got to do with it? With this EP, Tiny Planets showcase some things that I, personally, tie to Wakefield, but this has got fuck all to do with geography. It’s a masterful example of what it means to young and full of the joy of exploration; condensing the fleeting moments of wide eyed wonder into warming pop songs, with your friends alongside you. I love the feeling that it inspires in me and I love this record.

Dean Freeman

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