Miniature Tigers seem to have used their stellar, poppy first CD as a trail and error jumping off point for their career, omitting their debut’s weaker moments (“Haunted Pyramid”) in favor of breezier ballads and dancier melodies this time around. The fact that Fortress finds me unable to stay still throughout it’s duration is one of it’s best qualities, partially due to the production values of Neon Indian’s Alan Palomo on first single “Gold Skull”, a track that’s poised to become the song of every blogger’s summer, after it found itself being stamped with the seal of Stereogum approval.
Fortress finds Miniature Tigers, for the first time, functioning as a cohesive unit. Tell It To The Volcano was primarily an effort of the confessional indie pop tunes lead Tiger Charles Brand wrote in his bedroom. Now, however, the band is filled with members that compliment every aspect of Brand’s songwriting, with Rick Schaier, Alex Gerber, and Algernon Quashie giving every track a more outgoing personality and a stronger backbone than Brand could probably have provided himself.
Pleasantly, the perverse charm of Brand’s lyrics hasn’t abated and the guy who sang about watching his crush get undressed from outside her bedroom window is still ever-present. “Lolita” is just what it sounds; an ode to a 17 year old who inspires “wet dreams” and despite the creepiness of the lyrics, the song, particularly the chorus, continuously pushes itself back into the realm of adorable. “Bullfighter Jacket”, one of the album’s strongest standout tracks, somehow walks the line lyrically between unnervingly strange and actually kind of sweet, with the object of Brand’s affection taking his skin after she takes off her own clothes.
Miniature Tigers are now poised, with Fortress, to blow up, MGMT style, with the album comprising ever-so-slightly the Tigers folkier sensibilities for a synth-y sound that will undoubtedly appeal to Pitchfork-loving fans of Animal Collective, Le Loup, and Schaier’s Alvin Band, whose influence is evident on tracks like the aforementioned “Bullfighter Jacket” and the later album track “Tropical Birds”.
The fact that Fortress isn’t perfect isn’t to say that it’s not close. Nearly every track is unforgettable, both lyrically and musically, and the LP finds Miniature Tigers’ talent surpassing the promise of Tell It To The Volcano. Sure, they might have a spot in the “pre-noon” dregs of Lollapalooza this year but I’m willing to bet that they’ll be headlining Lincoln Hall before long.
Miniature Tigers hit Lollapalooza in August and will be playing a Lolla after party August 7th with Minus the Bear at the Double Door.