Album Reviews

Miniature Tigers – Mia Pharaoh

on March 07, 2012, 8:29am
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Miniature Tigers dodged a sophomore slump and separated themselves from the rest of the Brooklyn-based indie pack with their 2010 release, Fortress. But despite favorable reviews from CoS, Pitchfork, and Entertainment Weekly, the album never accrued enough buzz to launch the band into the forefront of popular music, à la Foster the People or most recently Gotye.

That could all very well be about to change given Mia Pharaoh’s sexy set of synthed-up pop songs. Miniature Tigers have taken another dramatic turn on the musical map that’s propelled the band far, far away from their early days of fun yet run-of-the-mill EPs. They’ve fused the sounds of ‘60s pop with an indie take on today’s top 40, and the result varies from the psychedelic to the almost club-ready.

The first track, “Sex On The Regular”, sets the inimitable tone of the album, both thematically and musically, with a catchy and powerful synth beat kicking the album off into full-on dance mode. Frontman Charlie Brand said he studied the likes of The Dream, Kanye, and Katy Perry, and this change in inspiration is most apparent here. It’s the type of first song that makes the rest of the tracks seem unimportant, but in the case of Mia Pharaoh, they are anything but.

The album is paced impeccably, with “Female Doctor” and “Cleopatra” allowing some breathing room in the form of slower, ‘80s-style jams that showcase Brand’s vocals and the band’s electric harmonies. The album’s lyrics shine as well, and “Easy As All That” reveals Miniature Tiger’s heartfelt endearing side with lines like, “This is the hardest thing that I ever had to do/ should I tell her that I love her though I’m not supposed to?/ Should I tell her everything and lay it all out?”

The songs mellow more and more as the album progresses, and the beginning of “Flower Door” sounds like Prince’s iconic “Dearly beloved” monologue could begin any second. The retro comparisons continue as “Ugly Needs” feels quite Pet Sounds-inspired, and the vocals on the last track, “Husbands and Wives”, is reminiscent of The Beatles’ “Because”.

But it’s “Angel Bath” that embodies what this album is all about. The slow, sexy opening fits with the contemporary pop sound of Mia Pharaoh’s earlier songs, with lyrics like, “It was like magic when we first got together/now it’s like ooh, ooh, ooh.” But mid-song, Brand and Co. drops us in a cinematic, psychedelic free-fall that calls to mind The Dude or Alice in Wonderland. It’s this combination of contemporary and old school that makes the album so successful.

After touring with the likes of Neon Indian, Ben Folds, and The Morning Benders, among others, and building upon earlier album concepts, this band is clearly willing and able to try on as many hats as it takes to make them a success. Mia Pharaoh is their most effective attempt yet, and it’s obvious that this band isn’t going anywhere.

Essential Tracks: “Sex On The Regular”, “Easy As All That”, and “Angel Bath”

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4 comments

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Delia
October 26, 2012 at 2:59 am

What a horrible album. I am quite shocked to read such a favorable review. It’s such a disappointment. It sounds like anyone could have made this album. I loved their previous work. I found the EPs to be catchy, fun, and lyrically witty. This was bland. Bland bland bland.

Matt
August 27, 2012 at 1:32 pm

Yea I think their earlier stuff is great.. and fortress was just magic. I was disgusted at the first 2 tracks on this album and stopped listening… going to try again today and hope there’s some gems

guest
May 17, 2012 at 8:49 pm

I absolutely loved Fortress and their Black and White Magic EPs.

This album, however, is awful. 

Caseyhansensmith
March 8, 2012 at 8:55 pm

Not only is the music great, but LIVE, they’re top notch.  They have something Foster The People wish they had…a live presence. 

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