The story of the NYC band, Little Person, can be “broken down succinctly around the number two”. The project of twin brothers and multi-instrumentalists, Max and Nicky Weinbach, Little Person continues to “draw inspiration from legendary songwriting talents like Burt Bacharach” following a recent “change of coasts from the Bay Area to the Big Apple”.
Both Weinbach brothers started their careers in musical theatre, but it was their “mutual love of classic 1960’s pop records” that led them to music. Forming in 2013, Little Person released an acclaimed, self-titled EP and wondered what to do from there. Now “firmly planted in New York”, the band is coming forth with EP, I Feel Fine, via self-release.
With new members, Mike Sanders on bass, and Yannick Sabarots on drums, Little Person have gone from strength to strength and feel the only way is up. Influences are acts like The Beach Boys, Bart Davenport, Harry Nilsson, The Smiths, The Zombies, Billy Joel, the aforementioned Burt Bacharach, The Beatles and Michael Franks.
To start with seemingly references The Beatles. “She Loves You” has cheery flourishes, happy go lucky bass and emphatic drum. “Count your blessings, make your wish” seems to reinforce this.
This descends into sadness, but only momentarily, as if to say happiness is only around the corner even after the most earth shaking of revelations. The dynamics strip back, only for the bass drum to herald the ensuing crashing cacophony. The final vocal harmony very reminiscent of The Beach Boys.
Following that, you’re asked “Send Me Your Nots”. It jangles with a bit of a swing to it. Things are happy, generally, yet there’s a creeping melancholy to it, too. A scrappy guitar solo, detailing a certain madness maybe even insanity, fares in. The closing moments, this time, seem headlong into a big mess, before things get, rather unexpected, delicate.
Then “Somebody Said” opens with piano, a departure from the two songs prior. It’s quite cheery, too, just expressed differently. The vocals, light and airy, contrast yet work superbly with the deep hit of those drums. Things get ethereal, as if to float away, before anchoring down to earth, again. “Ooh la la la” vocal melodies perhaps best convey how skyward this track strives to be.
You’re told “I Feel Fine”, which opens with elegant finger plucked guitar, its melody traipsing the line between laidback and happy, and down and melancholy. If you ever thought at all possible, of course. “You’re afraid to be lonely/You’re afraid to be sad and lonely/Afraid to feel helpless/You’re afraid to feel down and helpless” perhaps confirming the depth of the feelings on show, here.
“Deep inside I can tell your cry/But you feel fine” is akin to classic The Cure in that you dwell in sadness and melancholy, but there’s comfort, in a way, in doing so. After those lines, cues in the mournful lines of the bass, expertly placed. The bass is well cued throughout, in fact. “You forced your grief into a smile” maybe reinforces the whole intention of the track.
“A blinded soul that wants to see/Just open its eyes, it will set you free”. Perhaps, once set free, sees an expert change of tempo. Bass descending into sadness, rising into madness, is akin to something you’d hear in hectic jazz. Things slow down, again, taking you back into that dreamlike state of comforting melancholy. Coming full circle, indeed. The hook is pronounced in total isolation, good dynamics for emphasis on the very words of feeling fine.
“Solemn Is The Only Word” sees sedate guitar, before shuffling drum and ponderous bass kick in. It’s like a holiday in the sun accompanied with an overactive mind, one unrelenting and unable to relax. “But stay/Don’t go away/Why not think of a smile/Look around you and breathe” sees the last word elongated, all instruments dropping out for another show of good dynamics for emphasis.
Breathing as if to relax and escape the aforementioned overactive mind. The bass locks in with searching, wandering guitar, getting into its own state of wanderlust. Building with intensity, it doesn’t elect to get through all this the easy way, you could say. Things slow down, typical of the progressive bent of the EP so far. Almost ringing out peacefully.
It’s only “Perfect Girls” to end things. It’s also busy, in a bustling sort of way. This has a summer feel you suspect will be far more content than the last, but the hi-hat action of the drum suggests still a certain intensity. The “bap bap” vocal melodies reveal, again, a certain Beach Boys dalliance, but things also have a certain creepy and unsettling vibe.
“An arrow through the sky” brings forth a silence followed by re-joined guitar and plectrum plucked bass, the latter with a descending slide before building and booming as it drives forward. The drums seem to double up to convey an almost striving feel before things slow down for what seems the umpteenth time. The track seems to fade peacefully, as if having found that perfect girl. At least dreaming of her at the least, maybe.
Looking back, it’s hard to pick out particular tracks as the whole thing develops with a progressive frame of mind, leading from one track to the next. Whether referencing The Beatles, using vocal harmonies you’d maybe liken to The Beach Boys, or dwelling on melancholy like The Cure, there’s much to hear. The lyrically dense title track, for example, merits repeated listens to grasp it entirely.
Little Person have put together something that feels like a continuous, progressive narrative. The first half’s songs are short and the second half’s songs are a tad longer. It begins with seeming happiness, before developing into something more emotionally profound and complicated. The Beatles, The Beach Boys and The Cure, indeed. Little Person’s I Feel Fine EP can be purchased, here.
Words by Andrew Watson
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