Lexi Vega often felt like an outcast in a predominantly white LA community, as the daughter of a Cuban-born father and Japanese-American mother. The singer songwriter often uses her project, Mini Trees to explore identity and her debut album ‘Always in Motion’ does just that. Her laid back dream pop sound masks this pretty well, sitting somewhere in the space between Frankie Cosmos and Crumb.
The playful production is evident from the off.
The drums pulse distantly as “Moments In Between” gently bubbles along, before popping into clarity. It’s awash with subtle pedal steel and warbling synth sounds, carefully introducing new textures throughout. Vocally, Vega sounds like a more soulful Greta Kline. The melodies are dreamier but no less catchy. This could also be said of the gorgeous “Spring”.“Doomsday” is full of queasy guitar and synth sounds that bounce along a clipped beat.
This isn’t just dream pop, it’s more… lucid dream pop. Vivid, high-production bedroom music.
There’s a crisp clarity to Vega’s lightly warped sound that sometimes recalls The Flaming Lips.
The choice of sounds is well considered. Nothing feels just thrown in for the sake of it. “Underwater” seems almost sculpted with guitars that dominate the rhythmic structure on the offbeat while the all manner off subtle synth sounds glide through. The minimal approach to the bass on the kick beats of “Cracks in the Pavement” adds a great depth and warmth that allows everything else to glisten on what is a gorgeous and otherworldly ballad.
Vega strips everything back on “Youth”… at least initially. Just accompanied by a strummed guitar and wispy synths that float like pixies, it gradually builds to a rousing crescendo without ever bursting into the expected drum break.
“Carrying On” is a well timed diversion into something more upbeat.
Whilst not frantic or heavy, it feels markedly more vibrant compared to what has come before. The self-harmonising vocals continue and Vega really lets go with her vocal performance, so powerfully that her vocals distort satisfyingly. It packs a punch.
Whilst “Differently” adds little we’ve yet to hear this is, essentially, a pop album and it’s simply another fine addition to the Mini Trees setlist. “Numb”, on the other hand, offers up perhaps the most dynamic approach to rhythm. The interplay between the guitars, that burst into life following the intro, is a joy. Full of twists and turns, there are multiple sections all of which are melodically pristine.
The final track “Otherwise” is, somewhat predictably, the longest and slowest on ‘Always In Motion’. It has perhaps the most repetitive and standard structure on the album, yet still offers up plenty of aural excitement. The crunchy distorted bass that enters halfway through contrasts the twinkling glassy sounds that lightly bend out of shape. It follows its natural order, expanding out before Vega’s multiple vocals crack and glitch delightfully at the end.
‘Always In Motion’ is a sensationally crafted pop album. It’s emotionally rich with a stunning clarity of vision. An extremely sophisticated debut album.
‘Always In Motion’ is out tomorrow, 17th September, via Run For Cover Records.
You may enjoy this if you like: Crumb, The Flaming Lips, Frankie Cosmos, Mew