Pleasant Living is certainly an interesting listen. With emo and post hardcore being the two main influences, it wouldn’t be difficult to expect subdued melodies and somewhat depressing lyrics. With so many bands embracing the same “sad” Midwestern emo sound, there aren’t many ways to escape from the monotony. Admittedly, many bands embody the sound very well; it’s absolutely the reason why the emo revivalist movement has exploded in popularity, especially the past few years. Tiny Moving Parts have allowed themselves to stand out from their peers with just a few tweaks to the proven formula. Armed with a more energetic, pop punk approach and lyrics encroaching on endearingly hopeful territory, Pleasant Living is a breath of fresh air. From the Modest-Mouse aping guitars (this is a compliment, of course) in the beginning of “Movies” to the concluding yell of “There is so much more/Out there waiting” in the mostly subdued “Skinny Veins”, the album is proof that bands can still stand out from a glut of bands within the scene.
The continuity of the album is incredibly impressive, as it sounds natural without the tracks sounding too similar to distinguish from one another. The catchy qualities of the album are also at the forefront of Pleasant Living, providing plenty of vocal hooks (“Sundress”) and memorable angular guitar lines (“Always Focused”). The absolutely anthemic “Boxcar” is a foot-stomping and invigorating song from start to finish, transitioning from a low-key sound complete with hushed vocals to an energetic frenzy with ease several times in the two and a half minute runtime. It’s more than just a strength of the band, as they make those transitions quite a bit throughout the entirety of the album; it’s actually the biggest determining factor that allows them to stand out. “Entrances and Exits” display some of the best lyrics on the album, and also some of the most incisive lyrics about the topic of friendships in general. Tiny Moving Parts are able to make themselves seem human through their lyrics and music, which is the biggest compliment that a band can receive.
With all of the praise heaped onto this album, there is still some room for improvement. The lyrics range from incredibly insightful to full-on cheesiness at times, and while it fits with their aesthetic it does detract from an otherwise excellent release. Closer “Van Beers” add piano and horns to their sound, and they have never sounded more natural or energized because of it. It points to an even better progression for the next album, but Pleasant Living is a more than welcome placeholder while Tiny Moving Parts perfect their sound.
02. Always Focused
03. Fourth of July
04. I Hope Things Go The Way I Hope
05. Whiskey Waters
07. The Better Days
09. Spring Fever
10. Entrances & Exits
11. Skinny Veins
12. Van Beers