Tiny Fireflies: The Space Between (Self Release, 2015)
You know, there are bands you miss along the way. They fly under your radar and, given the avalanche of bands one can encounter these days, it’s not surprising that it happens, even for folks who write about music and go to gigs constantly. That happened to me with Tiny Fireflies. There are also those bands that seem to come out of nowhere and just hit in you all the right ways. Honestly, I’m obsessed with The Space Between now that I’ve got it in my hot little hands and I cannot stop listening to it on repeat. At the time of this first full-length, the project was a duo made up of Lisle Mitnik and Kristine Capua. Since releasing The Space Between, Brian Borzym has joined the band. Tiny Fireflies bring a deliciously ambrosial synth pop to the table that mixes the likes of Club 8, Yumi Zouma, and Au Revoir Simone into an infectious cocktail. The Space Between came out in 2015 after the release of three EP’s with the first of the trilogy being released in 2010. It’s deceptively simple pop structures betray a depth that many attempt but unfortunately lack.
The Space Between begins with “Stay” as synths pulse and guitar shimmers with sparsely placed percussion. Capua’s vocals are immediately enthralling. She sings with a warm and inviting tone that presents a deceptively demure vibe. It’s a brief introduction of what is to follow but it most certainly captures the listener from the very first note. “Taken”, arguably the favorite track on the entire album, begins with a synth tone that plays a catchy hook. It’s also immediately nostalgic, throwing the listener back to all those early synthpop bands of the 80’s. The guitars sparkle, floating about Capua’s fairy-like vocals. One of the longer tracks on the album, “Taken” never gets old as it lulls you into its hypnotic spell. It is just stunning in every way.
“Ghost”, the second single of the album, is spun like a story, with Capua walking the listener through a dreamlike tale. As the title suggests, “Ghost” is a melancholy affair but with a defiant air. The contrast between Capua’s beautiful dulcet vocals and the content of the words creates this wonderful juxtaposition between innocence and anger. Capua sings “You like to lie with your eyes closed/you would leave me behind if you could/you were a ghost in a bad dream/I still remember”. “Melody” is a floating, almost ambient track that only holds any sort of form because of the percussion/bass and the vocals melodies. It’s a contemplative piece that soothes the soul. At least that’s what it feels like on the surface. Again, there is an angsty lyrical subtext here that counterbalances the sweetness.
“Brightest Star” sits at the center of the album and begins with analog synths brightly dancing through the speakers. Then the deep, humming synths and pulsating percussion enters the mix. Tiny Fireflies is expert at the nostalgia trip in all the right ways. They produce perfect synthpop that throws you back while looking forward. “Brightest Star” embodies all of these deftly performed elements. “If It’s True” continues these synth vibes but there is also this gloriously subtle guitar melody that sparkles throughout the track. The chorus feels so much like Club 8 that I am having Saturday Night Engine flashbacks. This is not meant to be a comment that sounds like the band is derivative. On the contrary, their use of similar styles while making them fresh is the highest of compliments.
“Alive” has a resplendent saccharine melancholia. The lyrical content seems to be telling the story of a woman who has survived an abusive relationship. It’s not an easy song to listen to, but its content is important and the execution of the track brilliant and powerful. Capua sings “She stares at the sun now, as a reminder/She stares at the sun now, keeps her alive”. “Youth” is a sort of dreampop anthem that soars in contrast with the melancholic moments on the album. It’s a bright point on the album and one that works well as a penultimate track. The finale of The Space Between is “Wake Up”, a dreamy, ambient synth power ballad. It is a slow, soft piece. It’s an aural pillow one lands on after the wonders Tiny Fireflies has shown the listener throughout the album.
The Space Between is the perfect synthpop throwback album from the first note to the last. Channeling everything nostalgic about early synthpop music, Tiny Fireflies produces pop gems with every track that also seem quite contemporary. Dealing with topics such as loss, abuse, and youthful enthusiasm, the album has a depth to it that most pop albums lack. What Capua and Mitnik craft should be known by so many. Give them a listen and buy the album!
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