Little Big League - These Are Good People
Record Label: Tiny Engines
Release Date: August 6, 2013
Despite only having two years under their belts, Philadelphia’s Little Big League are already a very interesting prospect. Melding together indie pop and punk rock, the band’s debut LP, These Are Good People, is the type of record which will earn them fans in surprising places, Sounding a little like someone mixing Rilo Kiley and Sleater Kinney together, These Are Good People is a slab of 90s nostalgia communicated through nine tracks of catchy, discordant, pretty, poppy songs. With members of Post Post, Titus Andronicus and Strand Of Oaks filling the band, it certainly comes without shock that this record is just a little bit special.
These Are Good People is a great, if not quite excellent record. Angular and tense whilst still sounding familiar, it’s an LP of contradictions. Opener “Lindsey” is a scuzzy, simple introduction to the band. Lyrically, it’s quite vague but Michelle Zauner’s hushed to high pitched vocals sound like she believes whatever the hell it is she’s talking about. Second track “My Very Own You” is more jangly and winding and almost reminiscent of The Cardigans on a very good day. Leaving aside Zauner’s very distinct and all-consuming vocals, the instrumentation on here is wonderful. Every 90s brand of indie rock is explored by the band on These Are Great People. “Brackish Water” has the type of catchy guitars that would have lead to a hit on British radio in ‘95, “Sportswriting”’s melancholy and shoegaze-esque distortion is an album highlight. Where many bands trying to revive a sound end up establishing why the sound died in the first place, Little Big League have made it their own.
One of the most interesting aspects of Little Big League’s sound is the somewhat sporadic changing of modes. Michelle Zauner’s vocals swap from sickly sweet to cathartic with the drop of a chord. Whether it’s high pitched Karen O-esque singing of opener “Lindsey” or the hushed dark lyrics and screams of “Settlers”, the band never let their audience get too comfortable. Its takes talent to keep your listener hanging but Zauner has every single one in the palm of her hands. By the time that closer, and highlight, "Never Have I Ever Walked Away When The Time Was Right" swings around with its wonderful take on emo, the listener has been brought through the ringer and is all the more energized after it.
Overall, These Are Good People is a great album with plenty room for improvements. Some aspects of the record fall a little flat, Zauner’s occasional howls seem a little forced and lyrically speaking, its very hard to connect or relate with the emotions that Little Big League. However, given that this is a debut and given the fact that there is not one other band on this planet today that sound anything like Little Big League, faults can be forgiven. Whilst on their Facebook the band sarcastically says “Our music is important to the feministical evolution and fourth wave movement of Woman-Beats and Girl-Music. Ya know? NEWayz.”, they do have a point. If you miss the sounds of riotgrrrl or simply want to hear something you won’t hear elsewhere, These Are Good People is a great place to go.