Saturday, March 17, 2012

Album Review: "Mia Pharaoh" by Miniature Tigers


Miniature Tigers have taken a sharp turn for the 70s in their new album Mia Pharaoh. Mia Pharaoh features a higher level of refined production and several songs with dance beats. These new sounds are not unpleasant, but slightly jarring for those familiar with their first two albums.

A new sound is evident from the very opening of "Sex On The Regular." "Female Doctor" keeps up the 70s feel, with the same retro synths, disco beats and falsetto vocals. On both "Sex On The Regular" and "Female Doctor," Charlie Brand seems to be channeling at least a little Kevin Barnes circa 2006-2008. "Cleopatra" starts to feel more like a song from an earlier album, both musically and due to the mystical concepts that Tell it to the Volcano and Fortress edged around. "Cleopatra" also features a mention of "your Fortress," which may or may not be a reference to the preceding album.

By track 4, "Afternoons with David Hockney," the traditional Miniature Tigers sound is very audible. "Afternoons with David Hockney" seems to borrow slightly from 1970s Paul Simon. David Hockney is an English artist who seems to be an influence on the designs for Miniature Tigers album art.

The sentiments in "Easy as All That" and "Flower Door" are beautiful and poetic. "Flower Door" features one of the many clever turns of phrase on the album, "to see through your disguise//you have worn so long it started wearing you."

"Boomerang" proves to be the most catchy and poppy song on the album. It was released as a single many months prior to the album release. "Boomerang" serves as the most effective mesh of Miniature Tigers' old sound with the new 70s influences.

The final three tracks slip deeply into a dream pop sound. "Ugly Needs" features vocals much like the earlier albums, and sweet lyrics. "Angel Bath" toys with Barry White style vocals. Mia Pharaoh closes up with "Husbands & Wives," the slow, floating vocals of which are a far cry from the dance beats found at the beginning of the album.

As a whole, the album flows smoothly from one song and tempo to another. I'm not sure that the clean production of this album is an improvement for the band.What they've lost isn't the ability to make a good song, but more their individuality from the rest of the music market. I suppose Mia Pharaoh, taken on its own is a good album. It's nothing to compare with Tell it to the Volcano, but if it's anything like Fortress in quality, it will grow on you more gradually.

Miniature Tigers are an indie rock outfit. Left to right: Algernon Quashie, Charlie Brand, 
Rick Schaier, and Brandon Lee.

Mia Pharaoh can be purchased here.

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