Early this year, Tiny Little Houses played ‘Like A Version’ for triple j, taking apart ABBA’s ‘SOS’ and reworked the song far from the original. It was a big risk – this opportunity was sure to provide ample exposure for the emerging band, and not everyone likes it when such an iconic song isn’t sung like the original. It was a risk that paid off however, and has ensured sold out crowds for the band on their recent national tour and a feature album spot on triple j.
With a self-confessed ‘noise-folk, whatever rock’ sound, you soon get the feeling that Tiny Little Houses are playing whatever the hell they want, and loud. Front man Caleb Karvountzis screams confronting and autobiographical lyrics, and the rest of the band echo this sentiment with whiny guitar riffs and a punchy rhythm section. TLH formed in 2014 and consists of singer Caleb Karvountzis (guitar, vocals), Sean Mullins (guitar, backing vocals), Clancy Bond (drums) and Al Yamin (bass). Following on from 2 previous EP’s, their debut album Idiot Proverbs (released 21st January 2018) has all the right ingredients on each of the 10 tracks, setting Tiny Little Houses up for a big, big year.
The LP starts off strong, with Caleb’s distinctive and childish vocal style taking the floor on lead single ‘Garbage Bin’. The song, written about the loss of innocence from childhood is a good introduction into one of the central themes of the album – surviving the ups and downs of adulthood as a 20ish year old, and mental health. The lyrics range quickly from playful to serious, with lines such as ‘I need a little bit of money and a little bit more time / I keep on losing my friends to suicide’, and my personal favourite ‘don’t wanna sell out but I sure would like a piece of that cake’. It is clear why the self hatred anthem has become the bands biggest song, and is a stand out on the album. Another great moment is ‘Entitled Generations’, a screechy song that pokes fun at the Baby Boomers view on youth being stereotypically lazy and unmotivated, as Caleb sings ‘I’m 25 and still not living out of home / Got two degrees and I’m stuck working on the phones’.
Slower numbers are after the singles, with ‘Nowhere, SA’ and ‘Caroline’ showing that the band know just as much about letting it rip as they do tugging the heart strings. The album closes on ‘Drag Me’, a slow sad song, with lines such as ‘I’m still my worst enemy’ leaving the end feeling one of sadness and pessimism. Although it would have been nice to have the classic ‘happily ever after’ track at the end, I don’t think it would sound half as good. I get the feeling Tiny Little Houses would say “that’s bullsh*t” and write a song about unhappy endings. (I’d buy it!)
By Nancie Schipper