The Tiny – Starring; Someone Like You

The Tiny
Starring; Someone Like You

If you’re reading this review because you were lured in by the RIYLs don’t get too excited just yet. While it’s true The Tiny sound a lot like Regina Spektor, Kate Bush and Bjork, largely due to the scintillating vocals of Ellekari Larsson, it’s mostly in style and not always in substance.

But don’t get so disappointed that you stop reading and summarily dismiss Starring; Someone Like You as an inferior knock-off. The Tiny’s music may not have quite the heart and soul as those listed above, but with classical instrumentation, theatrical arrangements and unusual toy piano tinkerings, the Swedish band’s second album sounds like an original soundtrack to a lost art-house movie with nymph-voiced warblings.

You can’t listen to The Tiny without being conscious of the exquisite vocals of Ellekari Larsson. With shades of Kate Bush’s majestically keen voice and the catlike prowess and guttural intensity of Bjork, Larsson coos radiantly with breathy intonations and captivating, multi-textured melodies. Although her subject matter is more common and less oblique, she sings passionately and infuses each track with emotional energy. Articulating in an assortment of vocal effects ranging from a delicate sensuality to a waif-like dreaminess with crystalline diva chirps, Larsson is as equally esoteric, or even more so, than Regina Spektor and Joanna Newsom and is certainly The Tiny’s bright spot.

Musically, the discriminating chamber pop on Starring; Someone Like You is generated by Larsson and bandmates Leo Svenson and Johan Berthling using mostly classical instruments like cello, piano, and double bass. Augmenting the tailored musical sketches are occasional rolling drums, toy piano jingling, pump organ, and synths. An array of special guests sporadically provide a bit more substance with some glockenspiel, violin, oboe, bassoon, brass and even scraping noises and rustling leaves, often creating a dreamy atmosphere behind Larsson’s intonations.

But you won’t hear the sweeping arrangements and lush production of Bjork and later Kate Bush albums. Instead, The Tiny’s compositions are less elaborate and raw. Not raw as in unrefined or torturous, but rather uncooked and unaltered, resulting in compositions that are poignant, somewhat bleak and more fragile and brittle rather than commanding. The Tiny do not use any fluttering electronics to bolster their sound but instead rely on the melodramatic arrangements and the coolness of the vocals. This works well within the context of each individual track, but as a whole the disc generates a feeling of meandering along with no destination in mind.

But even with it’s few flaws Starring; Someone Like You can be an engaging listen if you like eccentric music that is not easily categorized.