There is a challenge in writing about a record as beautifully crafted as Olympic Girls, the third long-player from Tiny Ruins. One’s words suddenly feel heavy and cumbersome as the richly textured songs play on. It’s easiest, perhaps, to start with something two-dimensional like the cover photograph. In this, the warm glow of incoming light seems an invitation to join the band around the table, high above the Wellington coast. But that cover image is also perhaps a hint that these songs are also more outward-looking than those in previous collections.
The first few songs in this cycle feel the most immediately accessible. Maybe this is because they have had a longer listening life with some, like the beautiful School of Design, having been out in the world for a couple of years now. Here Hollie Fulbrook sings of the urge to burst through the ceiling/raise glass to the sky. Her delightfully oblique lyrics in this and others songs suggest a joyous acknowledgement of the spacious possibilities of light, love and landscape.
It seems no time since Hollie, accompanied only by bassist Cass Basil, took the floor of the Wine Cellar as the sum total of Tiny Ruins. Now with the delicate drumming of Alex Freer and Tom Healy’s electric guitar and crisp production, this album sees the first recording as a full band. Yet, at its almost meditative heart, Hollie’s inviting voice and her entrancing acoustic guitar still firmly occupy centre-stage.
As with earlier albums, Fullbrook’s lyricism keeps offering delights long after the songs feel familiar. In Sparklers I wrote your name in cursive on the air and in a later song One million flowers/ Dash for the natural light. It is too easy, to want to know what these songs mean. The answer is elusive – as it should be. For these songs of intricate beauty are best left to surround us with their generous palette of many-layered sounds.
Tiny Ruins are celebrating the release of their album on March 16 at the Pt Chevalier RSA. Tickets are here!