Release Date: January 31, 2012
They probably hang with: Tegan and Sara, Cat Power, and The Kills
If they were an ice cream, they would be: Mint chocolate-chip…with amaretto swirl
This two-piece husband and wife band is the best thing to come out of Cleveland, OH in quite a long time. With their dreamy, beat-driven, urgent sounds, Mr. Gnome hits all the right notes on their third full-length album, Madness in Miniature. Although they have been sadly unnoticed for the most part, that only means they give everything they have in order to be heard.
It is difficult to classify Mr. Gnome as fitting into one niche genre of music, falling somewhere between the folk-punk stylings of Tegan and Sara, the quite angst of Cat Power, and the dreamy electronics of Bat for Lashes. However, even given their inability to be neatly labeled, what they deliver is one hundred percent clear: a balance between quiet apathy and not backing down until they are heard.
They even manage to hit all the notes in one song, with ‘Bit of Tongue’ beginning with a dreamy folk and ending in a punk-fueled outburst. With ‘Winter’ they deliver a song so shoe-gazingly sweet that it seems impossible to have the growl heard in some of the other songs be pulled out of such a sugar-coated dream. This quickly turns around with the next track, ‘Wolf Girls,’ which calls on the ghost of riot grrl past- showing they are not to be underestimated. ‘Outsiders’ and ‘Capsize’ both send the listener into a similar frenzy with a beat that drives through the tracks like a freight train, creating the feeling of steampunk wild-west chase. Effectively, they have taken pieces of others and made something new and unique.
Intrigued yet? You should be. There are so many layers to this duo that it takes several listens to begin to break the surface, but begs to be played over and over. What may be a confusion of sounds at the hands of many, Mr. Gnome molds into a cohesive, mysterious, and solidly-delivered album that begs comparison but stands alone. Madness in Miniature is an album that seems to constantly be warning the listener of trouble, but begging for it all the while. And there is just something about trouble that makes it difficult to resist.
For more about Mr. Gnome, check out their site.
[This review is also published at Kevchino.com]