The third album from keys-heavy, synth-happy popsters Small Black was born slowly out of the chaos of hurricane Sandy. Singer Josh Hayden Kolenik returned to his family home in Long Island to find the place had flooded and spent much of his time trying to restore damaged photographs – one of which has ended up on the album cover.

The struggle to preserve and maintain past memories permeates ‘Best Blues’, and appropriately submerged beneath the buzzing atmospherics and ambient guitar cascades, there’s an undeniable wistfulness. ‘Big Ideas, Pt. 2’ is both gloriously sentimental and stylish (think Chromatics/Drive soundtrack), while ‘Back at Belles’ nods towards their earliest chill wave tendencies, re-imagined six years later in white noise and shoegaze fuzz. With vocals stepping out totally from behind the reverb to reveal an earnestness and pop sensibility like never before, and a propulsive rhythm section that kicks off in opener ‘Boy’s Life’ and rarely relents until its cacophonous peak in ‘XX Century’, this is Small Blacks most accessible and immediate record.


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