The Upshot: Dreamy, airy synthpop that proves sometimes less is more.
BY APRIL S. ENGRAM
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. Yet most of the album revels in a decidedly slow-paced ambience that is quite melodic and semi-somber. Simplicity seems to be the core of Small Black’s music as plucky, reverbed guitars, swirling effects, the carefully placed strum of an acoustic guitar and keys comprise of their laid-back release. Even when a song includes a gradual crescendo of layered, atmospheric sounds—such as the reprise of “Boys Life”—the ascension is subtle. The slow paced, sweeping closing track, “XX Century” is a grand end to the album as the echoey layers leaves listeners in an aural WORD filled with space.
A rather smooth and relaxing affair, Best Blues proves that sometimes less is more.
DOWNLOAD: “Boys Life,” “Between Leos,” “Checkpoints”