Vinyl LP £8.99 JAG249LP
5 track Mini-LP on Jagjaguwar.
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Used to have a bit of a soft spot for Small Black back in 2010 fueled mainly by an excellent split with Washed Out. I believe they may have even helped out as Washed Out’s backing band around the same time...might have made that up though. I guess after the disappointment of ‘Within And Without’ and Neon Indian’s ‘Era Extrana’ I sort of left this stuff behind....not Small Black’s fault though so I shouldn’t hold it against them, after all, they’re really good. Listening to new EP ‘Real People’ it’s obvious what happened, the sound got co-op’d by a bunch of shitheads and distilled into a fudgy, lifeless pop nothing. Again, not Small Black’s fault, they’re genuine masters of the form and they should be given a wide birth.
You see Small Black ply their trade in the most impressive moments in the history of 80’s pop production. Think the tender productions of early Cyndi Lauper or Japan or Aha or (most specifically) Change - an often overlooked yet highly productive and inventive period for music production. Small Black are at their strongest at a steady tempo hitting on a white boy R&B vibe that takes in elements of Soul, House and mid-80’s power balladry forging it into something they can rightfully call their own. The only issue is they’ve not evolved all that much so, although I’m enjoying ’Real People’ it’s a strangely nostalgic affair that makes me think of summer 2010 and my intense desire to own a Roland SP-555.
To hammer the message home they’ve even teamed up with fellow nostalgia head Frankie Rose for a couple of tracks as well as covering Blue Nile’s ‘The Downtown Lights’! As you can imagine, the snares sound awesome.
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