The Tiny Close Enough

[Eyeball; 2005]

Rating: 3/5

Styles: chamber pop, melancholia
Others: Joanna Newsom, Arab Strap, Kate Bush, Dirty Three

There are a lot of sad songs being committed to tape these days. And it seems they're finding their homes mostly in underground arenas. Popular music, at its best, brings all people together and makes everyone happy. But even at our local watering holes, we can bump into something that feels like dying. Have you ever been in a bar when someone puts "Black" by Pearl Jam on the jukebox? When that song hits its climax, is it not the most depressing thing you've ever heard? It makes you feel silly that you're drinking with friends, and you begin to feel a smattering of despair. That kind of despair is rare in pubs, but all over the place in the underground music realm. Perhaps this is how it should be.

Cat Power's "Nude as The News" was a big underground hit and man is that a dark, depressing song. Compelling, but man... I get a lot of the same sensations listening to the new LP from Stockholm trio The Tiny. It's a resolute sadness combined with a stark mood that just overtakes you. And it doesn't let up until "Across The Bridge," which tempers the longing with a sighing resolve. Where a group like Xiu Xiu goes over the edge of anguish into something else entirely, The Tiny are one of those groups that dangle artfully on the precipice of giving up. They milk the ever-nearing devastation of life and its let downs for all its worth, in turn, making it skip imperceptively ahead into the light.

Tiny singer/pianist Ellekari Larsson's high-pitched voice is intimately intoned, helping to create a very bracing atmosphere. The cello and upright bass that back her up make for an unobtrusive bed for her to delicately recount her sorrows upon. It makes for a spare listen, but not an altogether uninviting one. My only reservation might be the overly strident song structure. Each song has its own identity within their established aesthetic, but a heightened instrumental focus might help to distinguish them better. The songs are vaporous enough (particularly on the last two) that some extended instrumental passages would feel right at home. As fine-tuned as it is, Close Enough's careful uniformity is what keeps this notable release from being something extraordinary.

So, if you haven't gotten enough soundtracks to your woes, The Tiny will surely hit the spot. They also, despite my reservations, manage to provide this in a lush and distinguishably innovative fashion. Close Enough is definitely worth seeking out in this light.

1. Closer
2. In My Back
3. Opened Up
4. Second Time Around
5. Across The Bridge
6. Just Like You
7. Don't
8. No Money
9. Lake
10. For Hallis