Miniature Tigers – Fortress
Record Label: Modern Art Records
Release Date: July 27, 2010
There is a difference between records for stoners and stoned records. Fortress is the latter. What, I think, Miniature Tigers were going for on such an odd, relaxed album was, probably, just those two things. The band’s output this time around is less pre-Sgt. Peppers Beatles and more glo-fi-haze-WHATEVER. Which isn’t to say that it’s bad – although that’s certainly what it sounds like I’m saying. No, instead Fortress is just sort of meandering in the way that a substance-full Saturday night is. You’ll remember having a good time; you’ll forget why.
Honestly, I was ok with 2008’s Tell It To The Volcano. And when it comes down to sheer pleasure, I’m also cool with Fortress. I guess there was just a little bit of early disappointment when opener “Mansion of Misery” sauntered in with jangling percussion and Charlie Brand’s typically freewheeling vocal delivery. A friend described some songs as sounding “the same throughout.” And while I understand that sentiment, I don’t agree. But it took me a few listens to realize I didn't. On “Rock N Roll Mountain Troll,” there is perhaps too much weight given to the song’s strange subject matter and not enough to dynamic songwriting. However, its driving chorus picks up the pace briskly enough to make for a nice 60s-via-2010s piece of indie-pop. So although I didn’t get Tell It To The Volcano 2, I did get a clear vision of the band’s truest ideals. Happily, Fortress definitely carves out an interesting niche for Miniature Tigers.
The Neon Indian-produced track “Gold Skull” seems to be the band’s next logical step with its mesmerizing electronic beat and distorted vocals. Although, I kind of hope it’s the catchy yet thoughtful “Dark Tower” or maybe the Suckers-like “Bullfighter Jacket” that form the next musical blueprints. "Bullfighter Jacket’s" shouty gang vocals and energetic piano tinkling can be traced to plenty of current Brooklyn bands, and yet it’s clearly a Miniature Tigers track once Brand’s zany falsetto zooms over an uncharacteristically rock n’ roll guitar solo. Fortress has many transparent influences. However, the only thing clearer is the band’s thoughtful additions to said formulas (i.e. Brand’s tenor, a love for folk songwriting, semi-surreal lyrics).
After listening to the album’s denouement, which consists of the lo-fi, creepy love song “Lolita” and a metaphoric ode to (probably) Peyote called “Coyote Enchantment,” you might need a little Miniature Tigers Break. For an album built around looking at stars while in a hammock (or whatever), Fortress kind of takes a lot of listener effort. There’s parts aplenty in these seemingly simple pop songs; buried harmonies and insightful self-reflection being the tidbits that satisfy the most. Basically, Fortress will surprise some and maybe even anger others. But with the right Feel Good mindset, it can be a wonderful journey through the mind of some a.) interesting people or b.) interestingly intoxicated people. Plus, there are boobs on the cover.
Recommended If You Like: fun., Neon Indian, Suckers, newer Steel Train, stuff kind of like that stuff
Nice review. I'm really looking forward to hearing this record as a whole. I really enjoyed Tell It To The Volcano because I think the band has a real knack for writing simple, yet extremely catchy pop melodies. I've heard the "Gold Skull" single and I liked it just fine. It seems that Rick's electronic-driven work with Alvin Band has made its way into M. Tigers, but that doesn't scare me off. By the sound of it like fans of Rick's solo work are going to like this. I'm pumped.
Sounds to me like Miniature Tigers trying to be MGMT. Not necessarily a bad thing, though.
I wouldn't say that. I think they are being like one of their side projects. Check out Alvin Band...solo project from one of the dudes in M. Tigers and then you'll see what I'm talking about. Although I think Alvin is trying to be like Panda Bear, but that's neither here nor there.