Live Review
SMALL BLACK AT BARDEN’S BOUDOIR
Small Black
Barden's Boudoir, Dalston
London
25/05/10

More and more, Barden’s Boudoir resembles a dive bar from Brooklyn, transplanted into dirty old Dalston. And tonight the underground venue feels extra hip. All three of the bands on the bill hail from the cooler than cool New York borough which, just recently, seems to be churning out better than half-decent bands at an alarming rate. Small Black take the stage (armed with both a drum machine and a drummer, which is nice touch) and fill the room with their underwater melodies. Theirs is a layered sound, with faraway, tin-can pop echoes reverberating through the music, bass-led rhythms and flimsy vocals low in the mix, with the whole thing being washed over by echoing keyboards. The sound quality in Barden’s has never been particularly kind to bands though, and it shows tonight as the crowd thins slightly as the set gently flows towards midnight – maybe the Dalston party people aren’t quite so hardcore on a school night. There’s no knocking the songs though, and while some flee ‘Bad Lover’ hypnotises those who remain with its repetitive, enclosing feel, and pulsating, air-shredding keyboards. It’s a chaos of high-pitched and curiously melodic noise, and it sounds great. You can imagine songs like the set-closing, melancholic-yet-hopeful ‘Despicable Dogs’ (an instant favourite of Small Black fans since it’s release on the band’s self-titled, debut EP) being played out to a much bigger crowd, in a much bigger venue, and they certainly deserve to be.

By Chris Watkeys

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Originally published in issue 18 (vol 3) of Loud And Quiet. June 2010