Album Review: Tiny Ruins – Olympic Girls

Just like looking through a prism, these songs sparkle and deflect light – Olympic Girls is wondrously beautiful, highly wrought and made with such care and sensitivity.

YMR Album Rating: ***** (5/5)

It is refreshing to hear an album where you can hear all the instruments, as the sounds rise and fall, capturing the ambience of the song – creating a mood, an incandescent reverie. The songs are dreamlike, you almost feel like you are sitting on a well-worn brown leather chair, curling up with an old hardcover book and getting lost in the lyrics, in the stories.

Tiny Ruins are a band hailing from Auckland, with Hollie Fullbrook as the lead vocalist – her voice is sparkling and understated and reminiscent of French chanteuse Keren Ann and even Sandy Denny. Musically it sounds detailed, bringing together various harmonies and intricacies, with the music providing the atmospheric core of the songs. Just like looking through a prism, the songs sparkle and deflect light – this album is wondrously beautiful, highly wrought and made with such care and sensitivity.

Sounds of vibraphones, mellotron, Moog and a Hammond organ abound in an album that feels hazy and dreamlike, where you feel like you are entering a new world in the ether.

‘How Much’ is a swirling song that has a strong pop sensibility and has a wonderfully mysterious sproingy sounding bass. ‘Holograms’ is a highlight, a moment shared with someone that has “big, soft, heavy metal eyes“, a gorgeous song of reflection that provides images of the Aotearoa landscape with the lyric “In deepest water/There’s a line of silver“.

‘Bounty’ is a vignette that continues that sparkle, with Fullbrook singing “Everyone wants everything/For everything to be alright/But it takes more/It takes your all /Don’t it break you down” – a song that encapsulates the pressure of life, to achieve your dreams and ambitions, where the pressure is so much that you feel the need to escape. Fullbrook’s angelic voice and an acoustic guitar belying the darker content of the song.

The poetry on this album is full of stark imagery as exemplified on ‘Stars, False, Fading’ with the lyric “Headlights shimmering on the rainy supreme/Kids all lost in backseat dreams/I keep my eyes open” – the track feels filmic, where you can imagine a film being projected from inside your mind.

Tiny Ruins have created an album in which the fruit of their labours has blossomed into something of exquisite beauty, with a dreamlike resonance that entices you to repeatedly play the songs from start to finish. An album that does not sound stylised, but sounds sincere – with Fullbrook’s voice conjuring such beauty, and sounding like an old soul – a storyteller.

Olympic Girls is out now (Milk! Records)


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