Tiny Ruins might not be familiar even to the diehard sad, moody indie stans, who slobber over Julie Byrne and Sharon Van Etten, but they should be. New Zealand singer-songwriter Hollie Fullbrook has released two albums and several EPs, as well as a single produced by David Lynch (yes, that David Lynch) called “Dream Wave,” but she first crossed our radar with her most recent, lovely single “How Much” this August.
Today, Fullbrook has announced her third Tiny Ruins album, Olympic Girls, which will be released in February on Courtney Barnett’s Milk! Records in Australia, Ba Da Bing in the US, Marathon Artists in the UK, and Ursa Minor in New Zealand. She’s also shared the project’s title track.
“Olympic Girls” is folky and gentle, woven out of almost mathy, meticulous guitar, with touches of wind instruments and doodling bass. It’s languid and spaced out in a way that’s reminiscent of old-school Angel Olsen. Although soft in texture, it pulses with a quiet rebellion that it’s hard to determine the precise direction of. “Weren’t we born to break out/ To feel the muddy bank swell?” Fullbrook sings as she walks along a forest path, through river beds and mudflats in the Charlotte Evans-directed video.
Fullbrook articulates a hunger for freedom and agency, but speaks from within the confines of a cynical, jagged awareness of the world, whiplashing back and forth between the raw intimacy of someone like Olsen or Van Etten, and a kind of detached, prophetic folk-bard wisdom. Her cynicism is emphasized by the lackadaisical drawl she picks up following the song’s stand-out middle verse, which helps to illuminate just what she wants to break out of: “Oh you had your olympic girls/ The frosted sheen of leotard twirls/ Running the vault and winning gold for the TV screen/ Before being led back to the cells.”
She wants a revolution, but is skeptical of its odds. As she sings on the chorus: “We were only inches away/ Still have a long, long way to go.”
Watch and listen below.
01 “Olympic Girls”
02 “School Of Design”
03 “How Much”
06 “More Waits In The Underworld”
08 “One Million Flowers”
09 “My Love Leda”
10 “Stars, False, Fading”
Olympic Girls is out 2/1 on Milk!/Ba Da Bing/Marathon Artists/Ursa Minor. Pre-order it here.