A Small Victory - The Pieces We Keep (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

A Small Victory

The Pieces We Keep (2003)


I could either deem this "hoodie rock," therefore pushing the ever-caving in boundaries of the future cliché even further in, or I could just iterate that A Small Victory should fit in quite nicely on the Lobster label with its new contemporaries like Over It, Park, and Staring Back. I think I'll emphasize the latter.

Like many, ASV pairs the emo with the pop/punk/rock like a new pair of gloves, with a good one-size-fits-all mentality. However, this is the only concrete stereotype.

Strongly reserved vocals carry nary a trace of nasal induction nor whiny tones. The layered, varied riffs between the two guitarists keep it fun and interesting, and are fairly air guitar-worthy; no half-assed palm mutes here, people. The subtle tempo and mood changes throughout the tunes sneak up on you seemingly out of nowhere. The band, carefully, even carries the occasional inclining hint at the college emo rock explosion of the 1990s. All these functions portrayed within a solid six-pack of songs.

The Halloween colors (orange, black, and white) used for the layout scheme reflect the underlying seasonal theme of the lyrics appropriately. A cold-weather sense is consistent, like in "Their Lovers Fall," when vocalist Mark Walker (shoot me if I'm wrong) sings "through that frosted window I swear I felt this scarf tighten around my neck," or in "Hammer Strong;" "I would trade it all for the wind to sting our bloodshot eyes."

You can thank your lucky stars that the minimal use of screams ASV invokes are extremely sparse and scattered, and in the least, effective for the whopping total of twenty-somewhat seconds they're put to use.

The title track that opens the EP even has its own encore three minutes in, as a one second pause sits in the air like morning dew at 5 A.M., until the group breaks in with the hook line. It's a fine example of the catchy melodies ASV manages to exude without being painstakingly repetitive.

It's the little things like the quiet, faded background keyboard in "Their Lovers Fall," the abrupt acoustic use in "My Sweet Explosion," that are significant of what this band is exceptionally capable of fluidly conveying without throwing a mess of it in your face.

They kept the pieces for good reason.

MP3s "The Pieces We Keep"
"Hammer Strong"