All Tiny Creatures – Harbors

somehow the album gets a strong hold of you, without you ever realizing quite how it’s done it

somehow the album gets a strong hold of you, without you ever realizing quite how it’s done it


On Monday morning there was a lifeless field. A brown, dusty field containing near enough no sign of life, save for the slight green shoots that were poking up out of the earth. Those shoots gave promise of better days ahead but the air was still bitterly cold, the mist was moist and heavy and the day still seemed to darken too quickly. On Monday, those small green shoots were smothered by the drabness of everything around them. On Wednesday however, the sun came out to play and, from nothing, the field was alive with a stunning yellow glow. A shockingly vibrant crop of daffoldils had opened their heads, stretching to soak up the sun’s rays. It was a distracting and highly welcome addition to my daily cycle route. Suddenly, spring had sprung.

Spring is a complicated time for most people. Having been wrapped up in the winter blues and weather for so long, the dawn of spring turns you a bit crazy. Your brain kicks into overdrive and you find yourself questioning aspects of your life. Is it time to change jobs, change house, change furniture even? It’s the time of year where you start to get restless, eagerly looking forward to summer escapes and warmer weather. It’s no wonder that the phrase ‘spring cleaning’ was invented because it is the time of renewal, the time to begin a new seasonal cycle. We’re only animals after all.

Dealing with the mental hyperactivity spring brings to us can be a struggle, but it doesn’t have to be. Simply pop Harbors by All Tiny Creatures into the thing that makes music come out of your speakers and feel the tension drift away. Seriously, this is a stress ball of an album. That’s not to say that it sounds like something off of a self-help record or one of those ridiculous ambient relaxation CDs you find in shops that smell of too much incense; far from it. Harbors is an intruiging, enlightening and highly deceptive record and it will make you forget almost everything else in your life when you’re listening to it.

Harbors is the perfect album for a bright spring morning. It begins quite chirpily, with what at first seems a rather scattershot collection of fiddly rhythms and sections but they collect themselves together rapidly to form a bright and breezy opening couple of tracks. Vocals are minimal on the album, often used for atmosphere as opposed to meaning and when they are used they’re so floaty and echoey that it’s difficult to concentrate on them as the music trundles along more forcefully. By the time you get to track 3, Cargo Maps, you’ll hear the sound of a clock ticking and something that makes some kind of widdly-woo noise and although they’re there for about four and a half minutes they never get boring or annoying. Somehow, what seemed at first like a vast collection of chirpy little guitar and keyboard parts starts to meld together into something that seems remarkably simple and effective. The opening third of this album is so perky and life affirming that it’s the kind of thing you could imagine yourself scuttling round the living room dusting furniture to, just because it passes the time so nicely.

After that, the album opens up, stretching its vision ever wider and somehow the album gets a strong hold of you, without you ever realizing quite how it’s done it. By the time you get to the stunning three punch combo of Triangle Frog, Reservoirs and Time Feature, you may well just find yourself standing in the living room staring aimlessly out of the window with a duster in your hand. You’ll begin to realize that, while it began by being a perfectly pleasant distraction from daily life, Harbors has built itself up to something quite powerful,  commanding and demanding  your attention, sending you off into dreamland. Like I said, it’s deceptive but my word is it worth the trip. As Plankton March finally brings you back down to Earth, with some of the most angelic vocals heard this side of heaven and a delightfully skippy drum beat and keyboard part you’ll find yourself feeling mightily entertained and thoroughly rewarded. Spend some time with this blossoming little gem of an album and you won’t be sorry, that’s for sure.

It may not help you get the dusting done but Harbors will definitely put a spring in your step.