Small Black

All right, so chillwave never really caught on.

Five years after it reached peak-ascendancy, the brief blip on the public consciousness is mostly viewed as another micro-genre that fits snugly along with other forgotten movements like dance-punk and whatever it was that Clap Your Hands Say Yeah played.

But while chillwave didn’t exactly have cultural longevity, it would be unfair to malign all of its practitioners, particularly since some of the bands have grown to evolve from the lo-fi production and drowsy tempos that defined the genre.

Take, for example, Brooklyn quartet Small Black (who, incidentally, wrote the best chillwave song ever, “Despicable Dogs”.) Following their stellar debut LP, New Chain (an album that could be considered the industry standard for chillwave), Small Black released 2013’s Limits of Desire, a shimmering, noir-ish collection of synth-pop nuggets. The vocals were clearer, the production cleaner and the tunes catchier — a perfect example of a band maturing from its original scope.

That promising leap makes expectations all the more piqued for Small Black’s next album, Best Blues, which is due for release on October 16. The band announced details of their new album last week, along with news of an upcoming national tour, which will bring them to San Francisco on October 24 for a show at the Independent. “Boy’s Life,” the first single off Best Blue, is a Daft Punk-inspired dance number, marking a further departure from the group’s origins.

Small Black frontman Josh Kolenik has stressed how the band now strives to faithfully recreate its albums in a live setting, another change from their early years, when the group relied heavily on pre-programed material.  Fans who attend the show on October 24 will get a chance to hear that firsthand, and witness an ever-evolving band in the midst of their next step forward.

Small Black
The Independent
October 24, 2015