Written by Brandon George
After a pair of gripping EPs in 2019 and 2020, LA “living room pop” band Mini Trees have released their debut album “Always in Motion.” Fearlessly fronted by Lexi Vega, Mini Trees, with “Always in Motion,” readresses conventions of synth-pop with textures, instrumentation, and emotional depth rarely found elsewhere.
The descriptor of “Always in Motion” as a debut album is only supported by the fact that the band has released music in the past. That is to say, this album feels through-composed with a delicate and deliberate hand.
Songs have a logical flow from one to the other, the album’s arc is traceable and effective at communicating a thesis of trauma, hope, and uncertainty.
Mini Trees is so effective at hypnotizing the listener into a state of shared wistfulness that the moments when the composition splinters off from the band’s established sound hit with the unexpected emotional gravity of a secret shouted in a quiet room.
Resistance to the changes in the self plagues the speaker throughout “Always in Motion.” Vega’s lyrics explore a continuous theme that people’s experiences change who they are internally, and those internal changes have inevitable consequences on their relationships.
As the album plays out the reveal is that the emotions that lie buried aren’t some horrible secret but the developing self that comes from growth and time, for better or for worse.
Mini Trees manages to sew relevance to the album’s thesis into every track with the precision and holisticity of a concept album.
They take listeners through the myriad relationships that contain those fears, hopes, and introspective ruminations on no longer being who we once were.
“Youth,” the halfway point of the album, deviates most noticeably from the band’s masterfully consistent synth pop form. Here, a writhing synth, pattering hi-hats, a steady electronic pulse, and a wallowing trumpet, signal the deviation from whispers to bellowing pleads.
The penultimate track on the album, “Numb,” takes the emotional tension and catharsis of “Youth” and the holistic, full-band style of one of the album’s singles, “Carrying On,” and melds them to bring the album’s journey home.
By Vega’s own admission, the album ends on an unresolved note. The vocals on the closer, “Otherwise,” ebb and flow with the tide alongside pulsing downstrums of fuzzily distorted guitars. Vega’s vocals assure us, assure herself, that “there’s no certainty ‘till we reach the end.”