Small Black – Limits of Desire

Electronic music has never been my favourite genre. I much prefer music made the ‘traditional’ way – a combination of guitar, bass and drums. I find electronic music repetitive and uninspired. If you are of much the same mind as me, then perhaps you may be surprised by Limits of Desire by Small Black. Their second album, it’s a chilled out electronic affair that if it was sparser and not as lush, could be classed as ambient.

Opening track Free at Dawn is a lovely little number with a gorgeous video attached to it. Synth-pop has never sounded as gorgeous as this. The synthiness continues with Canoe, and the vocals from Ryan Heyner are glorious in the extreme.

No Stranger is another single from the album, and like it’s predecessor it transports you on ear-wormy electronic hooks away to a place of peace. Overall, this is a good way to describe the album as a whole – something that takes you away from the stress of real life.

The synths take a backseat on Sophie, with the guitar, bass and guitar I like music to be made with taking centre stage. All three instruments are complimented by well placed, well produced and unobtrusive electronic touches. This use of electronics to augment rather than make music shows that the band are comfortable to make music any way they choose; it also shows that they are not one trick ponies. This leads to a greater appreciation of their music, and a desire to see/listen what they do in the future. Hopefully in this instance, it is to grow from strength to strength.

Limits of Desire, the title track, is a gusty, swirly song. Synths again there but not rammed into your head. The balance shown on each track is superb. Synths are at times predominant, sometimes not. On LoD they once again back-up the live instrumentation to provide atmosphere rather than substance. It shows a lot of skill to be able to do this.

The closing track, Outskirts is a full on synth-pop anthem. Not bombastic, instead it’s a mid-tempo sway along of high calibre. It’s a good way to end the album, bookending with Free at Dawn.

Don’t make the same mistake that I made in being late with this review. Hunt it down, listen to it and be transported high above the hustle and the bustle of everyday existence.

Limits of Desire by Small Black was released on May 13th on Jagjaguwar Records.


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