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Small Black

Small Black

(Jagjaguwar; US: 27 Apr 2010; UK: 26 Apr 2010)

Small Black may deal in lo-fi hiss, but it can sure build quiet elements up into something awfully big. Part blissed-out electro-pop, part moody rock music, the sounds on its debut EP—now reissued by Jagjaguwar with two new bonus tracks—can be as staggering in their size as they can be catchy. Opener “Despicable Dogs” tricks us with a simple drum beat to start. It is as simple as things get on the record, as the haze of synths and body of live drums and bass whip it up into a cloud of blippy dust. “Weird Machines” turns that recipe into a more grinding, chug, and the vocals shift from hazy pine to sneering bleat.


One of the new songs for this reissue, “King of Animals”, shows that these guys can come at us with a slightly simpler approach, with guitar, bass, and drums—still all buried in fuzz, of course—and still produce an arresting pop song. Each track does run for an almost identical amount of time. So while each song can stand on its own, when you run the album through front to back these textures can start to run together. But overall, this EP is a fine introduction to a group with a hell of a lot of promise. It’s no small feat, in a time where everyone deals is gauzy fidelity, to make your sound stand out. And Small Black does that in just the first few notes here. So keep an eye on them.

Rating:

Matthew Fiander is a music critic for PopMatters and Prefix Magazine. He also writes fiction and his work has appeared in The Yalobusha Review. He received his M.F.A. in Creative Writing from UNC-Greensboro and currently teaches writing and literature at High Point University in High Point, NC. You can follow him on Twitter at @mattfiander.


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Small Black - Despicable Dogs
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Much on Limits of Desire, the sophomore LP by Brooklyn indie outfit Small Black, demonstrates the band's adept handling of the pop hook, but the preeminence of mood here drowns out what could have been some more immediate songs.
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