REVIEW: Tiny Moving Parts – ‘Pleasant Living’


Artist: Tiny Moving Parts
Album: Pleasant Living
Genre: Post-hardcore / pop-infused emo
Label: Triple Crown Records

As it cools down on the East Coast and Fall starts to show its face, I’ve been thinking a lot about why we tend to gravitate toward certain music during different times of the year. I spent the better part of an hour last week selecting the best Fall-centric records in my music collection and syncing them to my iPhone, in order to be ready for when the leaves change and everything starts smelling like pumpkin.

Around this time last year, as I prepared to say goodbye to my hometown and leave for college, Tiny Moving Parts’ This Couch Is Long & And Full Of Friendship hit me like a truck. I had heard the record earlier in the year, but something about the end of the summer and the accompanying bittersweet feelings allowed me to connect with the record in a way that I previously had not. A year later, Tiny Moving Parts have nailed their timing and released a record that is sure to define the Fall season for many listeners.

Pleasant Living is, without question, far more accessible than its predecessor. There’s a clear focus on crafting melodies in each and every song, with very few moments featuring the aggressive screaming, talk-singing, and mathy guitar solos that comprised This Couch Is Long… Singer Dylan Mattheisen’s new vocal style is reminiscent of The Front Bottoms’ Brian Sella throughout the majority of the new record, showing a loud and clearly-defined inflection that takes over as the leading force in the band. The new sound is perfectly exemplified in “Always Focused,” which pairs one of the year’s best guitar riffs with a bright and catchy number that bleeds positivity. The subsequent track, “Fourth of July” keeps the energy rolling with an innocent and nostalgic first verse- “I’m growing, but I’m not growing up / If you’re hanging out, then I’m showing up / We can watch the stars and when our toes touch / It will be like fireworks blowing up.” “Fourth of July” is also a prime example of the band’s technical songwriting skills. The song ends with a perfectly executed build-up and release, playing off the stop-and-start nature of the song’s middle section. Opener “Sundress” is sure to get repeat plays for its catchy verses and Wes-Anderson-level-quirky lyrics, about (you guessed it) beautiful girls in sundresses. One listen to the lyrics on this record will have you wondering why Tiny Moving Parts are often lumped together with bands traditionally known for writing sad music.

While each track is a fun listen on its own, Pleasant Living occasionally suffers from a sense of monotony. Clocking in at just under a half hour, it’s not a long listen, but a few of the tracks bleed together and feel redundant. Had I been in charge of the track list, I’d remove “Spring Fever” and “Skinny Veins” to bring it down to a condensed ten tracks. Each song has its own merit, but neither are required to fully understand what the record is about and might be better served as B-sides or material for a future release.

Despite a few forgettable moments, the record ends on a fantastic note. “Van Beers” features a piano and a trumpet line that sounds like it could have been written by Jeff Mangum. The final minute of the album is simply wonderful- the trumpet line takes over as the lead melody while Mattheisen and friends deliver simple wisdom that “enough is never quite enough / unless we cherish what is given to us.” “Van Beers” serves its job as the introspective closer flawlessly, opening up the possibilities for what the band will do on their next record.

It’s a toss up between the last good Summer album and the first great record of the Fall, but Pleasant Living is sure to please those looking for a fun, seasonal jam. Rather than building on This Couch Is Long…, the band has successfully moved horizontally and created an album that lives up to their previous release, while simultaneously defining itself as a different entity altogether.

SCORE: 8.25/10
Review written by John Bazley —

John Bazley

John Bazley was raised in central New Jersey by the romantic aura of the Asbury Park beachfront, punk rock, and Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 4. He is still trying to figure all of this stuff out.

In addition to UTG, John has contributed to Alternative Press and Full Frequency Media. Follow him on Twitter for pictures of his dog.
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  • K. Bennett

    Love to read someone else talking about their music taste changing with the seasons. That is exactly how I am. I have gotten multiple albums throughout the summer that I know I will really enjoy (including the 1st Tiny Moving Parts) but I just can’t get into them during the summer. The main artist that sticks out to me as someone I have always been like this about is The Postal Service. I seem to only be able to get into them during the winter. Well, as close to winter as we get in Louisiana.

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