Release Date: Oct 16, 2015
Record label: Jagjaguwar
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Rock, Indie Electronic
Small Black's third album manages to remain blissful even while reliving hard times. On Best Blues, the Brooklyn band translate pain into synths that gleam brighter and warbling riffs that are both silky and sludgy as they explore some of the most visceral emotions of their career. It all makes for some of their best songs yet.After a woozy sandstorm of cymbal crashes and echoing riffs introduces the first two tracks, a glaze of electronics come thumping in on "Boys Life," a vivid account of cleaning through a shed after Hurricane Sandy that somehow combines personal woes and an upbeat shimmer to create a pretty bumping dance track.
Small Black's second album Limits of Desire saw the band polishing their chillwave sound into something very slick and professional, leaving out all the lo-fi synths and murky atmosphere in favor of easy to digest, pleasant-to-listen-to '80s pop throwbacks. After an EP, Real People, which showed some dancefloor muscle and perky energy, the band return to their smooth, midtempo, medium-energy sounds on Best Blues. Mostly, anyway.
Small Black's third album, Best Blues, opens with swells and crashes. This is the Brooklyn-based group's initial template for the first third of Best Blues, whose songs start on an assertive note. This quickly dissolves into murky self-reflection, but in an engaging, curiosity-inducing way-at least for the most part. The synth indie-pop Small Black has honed for the last six or so years is at its best on the well-named, ambitious-sounding "Personal Best" with its big drums, and the shuddering flutters of "No One Wants It to Happen to You." Best Blues begs for a John Hughes film on the Psychedelic Furs meets U2 synthesizer-driven guitar yearnings on "Big Ideas, Pt.
Brooklyn band Small Black returns with their third LP, Best Blues, and continues down the chillwave path for which they are known. The lo-fi quartet, guitarist/keyboardist Ryan Heyner, guitarist/bassist Juan Pieczanski, drummer Jeff Curtin and singer Josh Kolenik, have polished their dance, synth pop sounds with each release creating an even more dreamy, airy atmosphere on Best Blues. The upbeat music on tracks like “No One Wants it to Happen To You,” “Boys Life,” and “Checkpoints” counterbalances Kolenik’s near falsetto, whispery and restrained vocals.