Album Review: Miniature Tigers – Cruel Runnings
As the race for that perfect summer single begins, Miniature Tigers steps things up by creating an album full of them. While the band has long been at the top many blogs’ ‘best indie bands’ lists, they have never really seemed able to break through into the mainstream but Cruel Runnings could definitely change that. The album was recorded on an extended Jamaican vacation with Chris Zane (The Walkmen, Passion Pit) stepping in as producer. The influences of both Zane and the Jamaican atmosphere are definitely laced throughout each track.
Everything about the first track on the album, “Swimming Pool Blues”, screams summer. From the bright guitars to the lyrics “Swimming Pool Blues” is a great indicator of where the album is going to take you. “There was just a different energy there, a different energy in such a relaxing environment,” says bassist Brandon Lee. “Everything came very naturally. We had all decided, ‘Let’s just try to be as much of us as possible.’” “Swimming Pool Blues” is a great glimpse at that carefree attitude as well as where the rest of the album is going to take you.
While “Swimming Pool Blues” feels like a throwback to 60’s pop and rock, the rest of the album is definitely inspired by 80’s synthpop and new wave. “Used To Be The Shit” relies heavily on synths and runs more toward the pop side. Honestly, it reminds me a bit of a boy band song from the early 90’s, but in a good way. That particular sound evokes a great deal of nostalgia for me and while most of those boy band songs were about trying to get the girl, this one reflects on a relationship gone sour. “Our love was warm like a VHS tape of Aladdin / Now our love’s so cold, LaserDisc of Cruel Intentions.” The playful lyrics are also another thing that I absolutely love about this song.
Cruel Runnings is a very fun album and possibly the band’s best to date. “We experiment,” lead singer Charlie Brand says. “A lot of growing pains come along with that. If fans get attached to a certain sound but then we radically switch our sound, some people have a hard time with that. But I like when artists challenge me. I like to challenge our listeners, too.” I don’t think the guys have anything to worry about here, if anything it will Cruel Runnings will only garner them more fans and hopefully gain the attention that they deserve.