Small Black have felt like they’ve been on the slide ever since the release of their eponymous EP in 2009 – the highest and first palpable watermark of US chillwave. Just a year later, as the Brooklyn then-duo released their debut album, we were gorged on electro romanticism, yet for those who were willing to put in the time ‘New Chain’ proved to eventually get better with each futuro-nostalgic listen. The same might be said for ‘Free At Dawn’, which somewhat stubbornly refuses to divert from chillwave’s great checklist. Toro Y Moi left feather light vocals and Casio tones like these alone long ago; not Small Black, it seems. Simultaneously they feel out of fashion and oddly unique for it, like a guy in a Von Dutch trucker’s cap. On tracks like ‘Proper Spirit’ and ‘Sophie’ the notable increase in the band’s fidelity reaches ‘The Immaculate Collection’ era Madonna, but it’s hard to even fall for these instantly. If ‘New Chain’ was no whirlwind romance, ‘Free At Dawn’ feels like a record you might never truly fancy.

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