October 27, 2013

Too good to be true

Sometimes big things come in small packages.

No longer homeless, Little Big League move into the indie neighborhood lock, stock, and barrel with These Are Good People, their 31-minute debut adopted by North Carolina’s Tiny Engines. They exude exuberance typical of youth, careening unpredictably around an emotional cul-de-sac with hands off the bicycle bars — a dicey proposition for new kids on the block.

Other than skinned knees from some minor spills, Little Big League finish the joyride relatively unscathed. The production is the largest scrape of the album, recorded last winter in an unheated warehouse (which could explain the occasional out-of-tune strings and off-tempo beats). It’s an affable abrasion, though, and signals authentic vulnerability to strangers they’re hoping to befriend.

They waste no time establishing a congenial rapport. “My Very Own You,” “Lindsey,” and “Dark Matter” garner instant BFFs, channeling the punk-oriented side of the band while simultaneously reshaping it. The transition culminates in the profound pensiveness of “Brackish Water,” “Settlers,” “Summer Wounds,” and a revamped version of 2012’s “Tokyo Drift” that brings LBL even further out of their shell. Ostentatious without being obnoxious, they reveal a precocious personality and acquaint the angelic angst of frontwoman Michelle Zauner, who brazenly bares her soul through every scream and whisper.

These Are Good People makes an indelible first impression. Little Big League haven’t entirely grown up, but there’s ample maturity on this record to earn them a seat at the adult table.

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