Small Black, Limits of Desire
Graduating from the hazy hallmarks of chillwave
Once a star pupil of the chillwave class of ’09-10, (which also featured Washed Out, Toro Y Moi and Neon Indian), Small Black, on their second full-length, has graduated from the hazy hallmarks of the sub-genre. Limits of Desire is a meditation on technology and the elements of modern society that foster emotional separation: Reveling in a newfound crispness in both production and vocals, frontman Josh Kolenik wears his heart on his sleeve across ten tracks of Instagrammed lyrics about love, escaping the big city, and being “reckless as rain.” As a result, the album shimmers with the kind of anthemic wonder usually found in the end credits of coming-of-age films. Lead single “Free at Dawn” opens with a New Order-lite pulse, building to the early U2-level climax. Coming down from the mountaintop is almost as pleasant; “Canoe,” “No Stranger,” “Shook Loves” and others offer a starry-eyed take on introspective balladry, capable of carrying their twilight-tinted dance party well into the dawn.