Since their inception in 2009, Small Black have evolved with the times year by year to give us some excellent, progressive electronic music. Mixing droning, chillwave production with the best of 80s new wave, their 2010 LP New Chain was song after song of epic, danceable melancholy wonder, and the commercial success of tunes like “Photojournalist” put them on the map as a heavy contender. In 2011, they played around with the trending mixture of indie electronica and hip-hop with the addictive Moon Killer mixtape. But with new record Limits of Desire, Small Black are all work and no play, making a serious and thought-provoking new wave record that pulls from their progress so far but also pushes them forward as a creative collective.
“Free At Dawn” is a fresh reintroduction for Small Black, giving us a clear and thriving picture of their present chapter as a band. Gone is all of the noise and reverb of New Chain. Josh Hayden Kolenik’s vocals are no longer drowned in a sea of sound, but rather, right up front in the mix in crystal clear glory. Unlike the trippy, psychic grooves of their last record, “Free At Dawn” is a straightforward, driving track that doesn’t drift far from the road at any point. But this isn’t, in any respect, a bad thing. With a powerful forward motion and a moving emotional draw, “Free At Dawn” may be the most focused piece of songwriting the band has put forth. It serves as the perfect opener to the new record and the perfect opening sentence to this new chapter in Small Black’s career. While the delight of New Chain will continue to please, Limits of Desire is sure to thrill as well as to challenge listeners to a more serious emotional and spiritual encounter with Small Black’s work. “Free At Dawn” is the soundtrack to a beautiful new day on many levels.
Limits of Desire came out May 14, and the band is currently on tour.