Lifted Bells - Minor Tantrums (Cover Artwork)

Lifted Bells

Minor Tantrums (2018)

Run For Cover Records

As cringe-worthy as the phrase might be, it's fair to call Chicago’s Lifted Bells a midwest-emo-revival supergroup. The band features members of Their/They’re/There, Pacemaker, Stay Ahead of the Weather, and Braid among others. It is a surprise to search their back catalog and realize that Minor Tantrums is the first full-length from the band, who feel like such a fixture having released their last EP Overreactor two years ago and their first self-titled EP a full half-decade ago.

The band has clearly been busy in that time and their sound on Minor Tantrums is polished to within an inch of its life. The dual guitars of Matt Frank and Matt Jordan twist around each other with the twinkle and jagged edges of ice breaking up on a lake. There’s plenty here for guitar aficionados to enjoy between shimmering waves of delay and dual guitar tapping runs that will appeal to T/T/T fans and might help pry away some younger fans of bands like Tiny Moving Parts. Seth Engel provides the ‘ride bell and rimshot’ fill-laden drumming pyrotechnics that were a huge part of the foundation for midwest emo progenitors like Braid. Speaking of Braid, Bob Nanna’s trademark coo is out in full force as he trades his guitar in for solo vocal duty. Everyone on the record is playing their assigned roles to a tee and the resulting sound is a precise distillation of all the various other projects the members have participated in. They’ve finally figured out how to bottle that Chicago sound.

The only criticism that can be leveled at Minor Tantrums is that there is nothing to criticize. These are guys who have made a lot of music, making music at the top level for their genre. Their sound is honed to a fine point and fans of their previous projects will be sure to find something to like here. What’s missing is any roughness, conflict or even an edge. This is a clean record that could stand to get a little dirt on its hands. It could be the Braid-bias talking, but Nanna’s vocals could use a rougher counterpoint to offset their sweetness.

But those are minor quibbles with a workmanlike record. Big songs like “No One Can Save Us” and “Stop Crying and Sing” are full of singalong choruses and the instrumentation on the whole album is note-perfect. For listeners who have enjoyed the past efforts of any member of Lifted Bells, Minor Tantrums is another strong entry into the canon.