30 Jul 2021
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Tiny Ruins - Album Review: Olympic Girls

15 Feb 2019 // A review by Darryl Baser

As a proud owner of the Tiny Ruins mini LP Hurtling Through, which was recorded with Hamish Kilgour (The Clean, The Great Unwashed etc) my anticipation levels for this LP were high. Not quite Johnny Cash eating cake in a bush high, but pretty up there.

The album opens with the title track Olympic Girls which is the perfect atmospheric opening song, the arpeggio guitar is expertly delivered in a lilting, swaying home from the pub at 2am pace, before Holly Fullbrook’s strong yet relaxed voice comes sailing out of the lap top speakers.

As I put this on I was retrieving dry washing from the line on a sunny hot Dunedin afternoon, the album’s first few tracks made the accompaniment perfectly.

By the time track 4 Sparklers ignites I’m back inside, and on second listen pick out the opening words: “I wrote your name in cursive on the air, flailing my arms around me, conducting down to the wire”.

Holly consistently pulls great lyrics out of the bag. For example, in song 5, Holograms there’s a phrase, “I saw the grim reaper, and I gave him the slip, saved by a Darth Vader novelty helmet.”

In some ways it’s tough to review an album when it’s being lauded and applauded far and wide.

The New York Times said “She is always looking uneasily toward the next line, or moving toward mysticism. In sentimental contexts, she generates lines of wicked ambition.”

Simply put, this is a songwriter’s album. Her songwriting is stunning, rhythmically, melodically, lyrically.

I wish I could make it a 6 out of 5 stars…let’s just say it’s an inflated 5 stars.

My only regret is that my link to the album only lasts for ten streams for review purpose, unlike the old days when physical copies are sent to reviewers.

Rating: ( 5 / 5 )
 

About Tiny Ruins

Tiny Ruins are a band based in Auckland, New Zealand. Conceived in 2009 by songwriter Hollie Fullbrook to describe her solo output, the group now includes Cass Basil, Alex Freer & Tom Healy. Traversing early influences of folk and blues, Tiny Ruins’ sound draws on ethereal and grungy soundscapes alike. Sometimes likened to Nick Drake, Mazzy Star or Nico, Fullbrook’s voice and guitar work evades cliché, making use of alternate tunings by way of her own self-styled fingerpicking. Lyrically one of a kind, stories are laced with a dark humour that is at times disarmingly confessional, at others, cryptic and philosophical.

Fullbrook was born in Bristol, England, before moving to New Zealand with her family at the age of ten and settling in West Auckland. She learnt the cello from a young age, picking the guitar up and writing songs in her early teenage years. Asked to support Alasdair Roberts in Sydney, May 2010, she was signed to Australian indie label Spunk Records on the strength of some demos. Tiny Ruins’ debut Some Were Meant For Sea was released in 2011 and saw critical praise for its minimalist approach & lyrical flair. Recorded by Fullbrook and producer Greg ‘J’ Walker (Machine Translations) in a small hall in South Gippsland, the album was voted 2011’s Album of the Year by BBC World Service arts & culture programme ‘World of Music’ and was a finalist for New Zealand’s Taite Prize in 2012. Tours of New Zealand, Australia & Europe followed, with Fullbrook performing solo, and later as a duo with Cass Basil on upright bass, supporting The Handsome Family throughout the UK.

Joining forces with drummer Alex Freer, Tiny Ruins evolved into a three-piece, recording a bluesy EP, Haunts, together in the Waipu bush, before working with Tom Healy at The Lab in Auckland on their second album, Brightly Painted One. Championed by the New York Times, NPR and David Lynch, it won Best Alternative Album at the New Zealand Music Awards in 2014, and saw a joint release by labels Bella Union, Spunk Records and Flying Nun.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Tiny Ruins

Releases

Olympic Girls
Year: 2019
Type: Album
Buy Online @ Mightyape
Olympic Girls Solo (Acoustic)
Year: 2019
Type: Album
Hurtling Through
Year: 2015
Type: EP
Brightly Painted One
Year: 2014
Type: Album
Haunts
Year: 2013
Type: EP
Some Were Meant For Sea
Year: 2011
Type: Album
Little Notes
Year: 2010
Type: EP

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