What if Queen went lo-fi? That’s MiniBoone’s EP Big Changes in a nutshell. The New York band is a little less Liberace and a little more Talking Heads, but the feeling of being front and center at a Broadway production is unshakeable. Not necessarily a terrible thing. There are great artists of whom we expect (nay, demand!) a little something extra for our money. Lady Gaga, Kiss, Meatloaf, and, to a lesser extent, Of Montreal (QRO live review). If these artists didn’t cultivate the larger-than-life sound, they’d hardly be worth the trouble. The six songs from Big Changes appear to be cut from a similar cloth.
The dramatics start early and often on opener "Summer Jam". A bouncy bass and bicycle spokes percussion clear the way for the protagonist. You can practically see the spotlight, the hushed audience, the grand entrance. When this works, it’s tremendously exciting. When it doesn’t, it feels like a forgettable outtake from Rent. Three out of the five members of MiniBoone contribute vocals, so the choral effect is a real part of their repertoire. That’s a good thing because these songs would be tremendously taxing for one singer to bear. The lead vocal on "Cool Kids Cut Out of the Heart Itself" sounds like he suffered too many takes in the studio during certain Bobcat Goldthwait moments.
Does the curtain ever close on the theatrics during Big Changes? Not really. "Devil In Your Eyes" entices with about of minute of Broken Social Scene (QRO spotlight on)-esque buildup until the song makes a sharp U-turn back to Broadway. This is a pivotal moment for the listener. Either buy into the glammy strut, or walk away. MiniBoone will not be everyone’s cup of tea, but those who stay for the party will enjoy one of the better tracks on the album, "Rosalina Must Dance Alone". The lyrics are a celebration of discovering love after so many years of teenage nihilism: "When I was sixteen / I wouldn’t believe in it / No expression of truth / Just a chemical reaction / Now that I’m twenty-two / I’ve found love / It’s love, it’s love". If there’s anything that will make you sing like a sailor on shore leave, "It’s love, it’s love."
Subtract the mostly disposable David Byrne-cover "I Need" and MiniBoone has produced a very strong EP. Tight, focused, energetic, with a boatload of stage presence. This is the sort of band, perhaps, that has to be seen live to be best appreciated, but fans will want to take home MiniBoone as well. If showy indie rock numbers with a Jimmy Eat World-heart, Weezer (QRO live review)-brain, and Queen-soul are your thing, then Big Changes will get some well-deserved rotation on your turntable.