A warm swell of ambient sound precedes an arpeggiated rhythmic riff that springs into flight,exuberant and joyful. Sparkling electric guitar punctuates the relentless thrum of Hollie Fullbrook’sacoustic, as the potent lyricism she is known for cuts searingly through the noise – “Stirring, shaken,all of us waking under the same cover of sky”.And so begins ‘Olympic Girls’, the title track of the third long-player from Tiny Ruins. Set for releaseon 1 February 2019, the group’s hotly anticipated next offering is replete with vital lyricism andgalvanising rhythms.“I’ve heard Olympic Girls, and I had to pick my jaw up off the floor”, wrote Grant Smithies. “Clusteredaround more introspective passages typical of confessional singer-songwriters are gnarlier phrasesthat give her work its buzzy voltage: arresting visual images, weird associations, daisy-chains oftelling detail.”Building on the sparse minimalism and mesmerising songwriting of earlier releases, Olympic Girlscomprises a taut and agile quiver of songs, dancing with explorative instrumentation and a popsensibility that springs with life.The album was recorded during several intense weekends spanning many months in producer TomHealy’s small Paquin Studio, nestled inside The Lab in Auckland’s Mt. Eden. With Healy playingelectric guitar in the band since 2014, the tracking room doubles as a practice space for Tiny Ruinsand other local bands, and is the same studio in which they recorded 2014’s Brightly Painted One,for which Healy was nominated for Producer of the Year at the New Zealand Music Awards.“Where that album was condensed into two weeks of recording, with Olympic Girls we took our time.I would bring new songs to the band as I wrote them, and we would experiment with thearrangements over maybe a few days, and then quite soon after would start recording”, saysFullbrook. “It was about building something quite epic over a long stretch of time that didn’t fall victimto overplaying or overworking. Once recorded, we wouldn’t listen to the track for months, we’d justmove onto the next one. It was only at the very end that Tom opened the vault. Not being in a flashstudio with the clock ticking was an enormous luxury.”With Fullbrook at the helm and Healy producing, longtime bassist Cass Basil and drummer AlexFreer were vital sounding boards & leant their own creative flourishes toward an overall sound ofconfident exuberance, marrying the intricately woven poetics of Leonard Cohen, the shimmeringdream-pop landscapes of Beach House or Mazzy Star, and the off-kilter experimental pop ofBroadcast or John Cale.The result is an expansive series of delightfully bold arrangements – the sound of a band so fluid,yet grounded; the hard-won trust and ease that comes with long months of touring. The burden of ittaking so long was also its blessing, with no filler seeping through the bricks, nor beams blocking outthe spaces. As Fullbrook says, quoting the lyrics of the somewhat sinister ‘School of Design’, “it wastime to bust through the ceiling”.Exhilaration persists throughout the record, as Fullbrook commands a series of songs marrying theordinary with the outlandish, the metaphysical with the mundane. Varied strands of poetic imageryexpound on the abstract possibilities of potential; spaces both finite and boundless, and how onemight push into the other. “Fullbrook articulates a hunger for freedom and agency”, said Stereogum,“but speaks from within the confines of a cynical, jagged awareness of the world, whiplashing backand forth between the raw intimacy of someone like Olsen or Van Etten, and a kind of detached,prophetic folk-bard wisdom.”‘How much would you be willing to give?’ Fullbrook asks point-blank in first single “How Much”,ahead of woozily discordant strings and a stomping neo-psychedelic rhythm. The lyric brims withimagery of supermarket breakdowns, lilos, snarks and silos while an anthemic guitar hook soarsthroughout. Not content to leave the song at a stable conclusion; a thumping ‘I am the Walrus’-esquebass outro by longtime bandmate Cass Basil propels the single boomerang-style back to a space ofadroit experimentation.The album is a sophisticated ode to the possibilities of freedom, its title track replete with richimagery of figure skaters, prison cells and stuccoed motels. Glittering with promise, it’s an urgentchallenge to push further, to look harder – as the chorus of second single, the eponymous OlympicGirls dictates, “We were only inches away / still have a long, long way to go.”Shimmering with ebullient echoes, third single ‘Holograms’ embodies its own words,“In deepest water / There’s a line of silver”. Hovering in the space between luminescent dream-popand sedate psychedelia, rich layers of chorus and delay provide a sumptuous textural sea-bed forHollie Fullbrook’s musings on holographic dancefloors (“It’s how we dance in the future … With big,soft, heavy metal eyes”), rising sea levels and human demise (“Our lungs are sponges / They’regonna wipe us out”). Softly bubbling electric guitars evoke a mood both space-bound and sunken,while the chorus’s cascading bass-line spurs on a shuffle beat that creatures of any realm would findhard to resist. The stretchy, shoegazing outro fills the ears with reverb while a monotonous bassgroove hums as a bubbling anchor – a song suspended in space and time.Some of the album’s most beautiful moments are found in the surrounding tracks to the moreanthemic singles – from the incandescent, tripping heartbreak of ‘Sparklers’, the captivating baroquehooks of Kore Waits in the Underworld, to the glittering chorus of One Million Flowers, every momentis lined with an urgent spell. Finally, in the album closer, ‘Cold Enough to Climb’, Fullbrook hones inon the central idea, of pressing on towards a kind of freedom, however existential or illusory – “webuild towns out of ink, we realise pixelated towers, but to think the world inside is just beyond ourpowers”.