Tiny Masters of Today, Skeletons
When I was in middle school, my musical abilities could be summed up by a few stagnant years of piano lessons and proud ownership of first chair in the band’s trumpet section. When the Tiny Masters of Today were in middle school, on the other hand, David Bowie was calling their music “genius.”
Brooklyn-based siblings Ada and Ivan — now 13 and 15, respectively — are truly something unique. With the help of Garageband, they write, play, record, and produce their own songs. Their latest release, Skeletons, is proof that not only do they understand their own musical strengths and limitations, but that they are capable of calculated restraint that’s not often exercised by far more experienced musicians.
If you had to sum up Skeletons in a singular thought, it should be that these kids really know how to have fun with their songs. “Drop the Bomb” is an explosive album opener, marked by phrases of crunchy, rhythmic snippets alternating with smooth, almost calming guitar lines. “Drop the Bomb” sets the tone for the rest of the album’s sound: equal parts gritty industrial and sugary pop. But “Two Dead Soldiers” is when TMoT really kicks it into gear, with charming wordplay and a repeated call-and-response that’ll stay in your head for days: “Can you hear me, Brooklyn?” / “Yahhhhhh!” / “Can you hear me, Brixton”? / “Yahhhhh!” “Real Good” is another infectious track, lumping together serious sing-along-ability with some of the most squawking guitar you’ve ever heard.
Towards album’s end, the energy dwindles a notch or two; “Big Bass Drum” seems like part two of “Big Stick,” and “Understandable Honesty” and “Abercrombie Zombie” fall into lackluster sloppiness. Regardless, Skeletons is an impressive feat, expanding on an already-developed signature sound and showing off an innate sensibility for hooks and melodies. Not bad for a couple of full-time students who still have to spend their Autumn and Spring days in public school classrooms.