The sound is important but nothing is more important than the feeling of the sound. When Charlie Brand (vocals, guitar) was writing the newest Miniature Tigers record, he looked to the sum of his musical influences for inspiration. "I wanted to make something like Weezer's Blue Album—not exactly the album, but the feeling of listening to that album at age whatever. Something with that feeling that could connect with people." That's how the band had started, after all: When he and founding member Rick Schaier (keys) connected over Myspace in the mid-'00s through their love of the same bands. After a few albums, they brought on Algernon Quashie (guitar) and Brandon Lee (bass) to complete the band.
The resulting record, Cruel Runnings, is something halfway between nostalgia and the ecstatic now, an album that yearns for the recent past while staring open-hearted at what the present dares to bring. Songs about swimming pools remembered on sticky summer nights, lovers meeting at discotheques, streets where you used to live. Let's just try to be as much of us as possible, Brand decided during the recording process. In that, Miniature Tigers have written a record that's eminently relatable, passionate but not without a healthy sense of perspective. Recorded in Jamaica with producer Chris Zane (The Walkmen, Passion Pit) the album sounds as freeing as the process felt. "There was just a different energy there, a different energy in such a relaxing environment," he says. "Everything came very naturally." That's fitting of a record where Brand wanted to capture the way a relationship—and through that, life—really felt. "Not necessarily something that was good and got bad," he says, "but the ups and downs of it."