Independent artists, indie rock bands in particular, tend to get caught in the “throw everything in and see what happens” trap in order to impress record producers and the pop-loving public. Luckily for Mr. Gnome, their bombastic contrasting rhythms along with breathy lyrics make them stand out in the album Madness in Miniature. This is not your average indie record. From the jump with the opening track “Ate the Sun,” you get the feeling that they take their musical influences all types of music.
The Cleveland-based duo, made up of Nicole Barille and Sam Meister, has a familiarity with each other’s styles that shine through in each track. The album has strong cohesion because of its brazen weirdness. To not be mistaken, at times the record can go in either direction, from the eerie interlude of “Awake” to the spunky and near radio-ready “House of Circles.” That’s the beauty of Madness in Miniature, though, its eclectic nature in simply exciting and fresh for a genre rife with repetitive riffs, mediocre lyrics and even more mediocre singers.
Speaking of singers, Barille shines in every track because she owns every moment of it. You can tell she is reveling in this opportunity to show her true ability after two lesser-heard albums. There is a self-assuredness about her singing that is reminiscent of Amy Lee of Evanescence or Adele. If she had to be categorized, Barille would be Adele with a penchant for mosh pits and dark holes. Meister shines in the record too, meshing with Barille’s strong singing and guitar playing with his own powerful drumming, highlighted on the soul and possibly ghoul-stirring “Wolf Girls.”
At times, the record can fall into a lull that might not put its viewer to sleep, but will have them flipping their web pages or iPods onto shuffle. The sleepy, dreary “Watch the City Sail Away” had promise but was too undeveloped for its own good. I left wanting more from the long-winded “Outsiders” as well. The song felt a little spineless and oddly off-kilter.
Besides those small issues, Madness is a modern, joyous and of-the-moment CD that glides along, taking the listener on a ride of highs, lows and the occasional daydream that leaves them satisfied in the process.