1. Dead in the Water (5:27)
2. God Bless the Child (4:45)
3. Wilting Violet (4:42)
4. Wait (3:26)
5. Run a Mile (6:43)
6. Little Man (3:44)
7. November (6:51)
8. Boxing Day (3:58)
9. God Bless the Children (2:02)
10. Snowdrops (5:59)
11. We Love You (8:46)
Little Man was their fifth studio album and is dedicated to Bruce’s son Felix, who was born three months premature and sadly passed away in February 2006. It is then, understandably, a lot different from their other albums.
The opening track Dead in the Water sets the tone for the album nicely, with its haunting, echoey vocals and bleak lyrics. Then along comes God Bless the Child, which has some fabulous acoustic picking before the bass and drums come in. The middle section drags on a bit, but the combo of strings, strange synthesised sounds and what I presume are tubular bells are effective. Soord’s powerful, clean voice is used throughout until suddenly the music turns heavier and the vocals become gritty and menacing. Great switch in mood there.
Wilting Violet is next up, which uses delicate piano and an orchestral section which builds and builds and builds and climaxes with some frenzied scratchy electric guitar work. Like the opening track, haunting vocals are there again. Wait is another quiet track, with acoustic guitar, xylophone and triangle used in the opening half. Then some great, marching drumming enters and finally strings. Run a Mile then begins quietly, and then suddenly comes in with spooky synthesised vocals and noisy guitar. Perhaps too noisy, though - it drowns a lot of the other sounds out. The verse is very sing-along, though a little repetitive. At first listening, it was a favourite, though now it’s lost its appeal and is one of the weaker tracks.
The title track Little Man uses interesting time signatures (3/8 and 5/16?), with some delicate acoustic guitar and piano work again. Violins begin the next track, November, which has some very creepy singing, a great chorus, nice drumming and some good guitar work in the second half. Boxing Day has some very heartfelt lyrics (“I hold you tighter every night, and I’ll never let you out of sight”) and is a fabulous acoustic track, containing a mini violin solo-type-thing.
God Bless the Children is a continuation of track #2, carrying on from the gritty menacing section with some wonderful synths and robotic vocals. I feel as though they could have been left together as one track, though it does function as a clever brake between Boxing Day and the very similar song Snowdrops, which has a nice percussive element including echoey clapping towards the finish.
Finally we have what is, in my opinion, the best song on the album, We Love You. It begins with the sound of a life-support machine and eerie pulsing background noise. You just know it’s going to be a disturbing track as soon as the vocals come in. Very creepy lyrics as well, with the repeated line “Don’t you know we love you?” and then the chorus - “I need your soul, I need your soul, to feed my world, to feed my world.” There’s great piano in the chorus, some wailing guitar and excellent use of synths and keyboard.
Overall, it’s a hugely emotional and at points disturbing ride. And, I must add, very difficult to listen to. This isn’t an album you can just have playing in your car as you drive to work, or listen to whilst browsing the web or whatever. To really appreciate it, you need to find a free 56mins, sit down, and really listen. If you’re new to the band, I suggest getting Tightly Unwound first. It’s an easier listen, and also a lot easier to get hold of.
If you do listen to it properly, though, it’s very, very good. If it were a little more varied and an easier listen, I think I'd rate it higher.