umojacketv1Ah Brooklyn, that supposed musical paradise in a land far away. I am always a bit sceptical when checking out any hyped band from The Big Apple. I admit that there must be something in the water there that helps produce incredible music, however you also seem to get your fair share of shite that gets played because they hanged out with so and so at an opening of an art gallery in a trendy part of town.

After the first listen of Small Black’s second album, Limits of Desire, I am struggling to choose which side the 4-piece sit on. They look sharp, dress correctly and have the right story of gaining attention after the release of a hyped EP (which was recorded in the attic of a Long Island surfboard workshop), however the wow factor in their songs is missing. Yet after another couple of spins the songs start speaking to you, and other sounds and images begin to emerge.

Lead single and opening track, ‘Free at Dawn’, is a fantastic lo-fi piece, which will relax the most hardened of hot heads. The lyrics discuss being alone, walking on a ‘skeleton street’ where the person in question is looking forward to the freedom that dawn brings.

‘No Stranger’ is the other single, and an obvious choice of album standout, having the potential to be one of this summer’s anthems. Its lyrics are corny but kinda sweet at the same time, something you would sing along to with your hip girlfriend, “Take me through your barricades/push me through your city walls/take me. I can be whoever you want”.

‘Sophie’ has a great melody, reminding me of an underappreciated Aussie band named Van She, while ‘Breathless’ puts the listener in the mood for a bit of spaced out disco boogying.

However, as the album goes on, the tracks seem to blend into each other and it has you thinking that you’ve heard this before. Saying that, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear a few of these songs everywhere this summer, released at the perfect time, there is no doubt clothes stores and Sunday session DJ’s will have a blast putting this on high rotation.

Title track ‘Limits of Desire’ has that spaced out vibe and continues the trend of synth heavy beats, while ‘Shook Loves’ differs a little through the introduction of a trumpet, which is a welcome distraction. The music is all very dreamy and would sit nicely on a Zach Braff soundtrack in between Frou Frou and M83.

It may come across that this is just an ok album, its more than that, but the thing that annoys me is when a band with so much potential does not rise to the occasion and deliver the knockout blow.

All of the tracks have well set out melodies and a decent beat, achieving the aim of providing a refreshing chilled out sound to substitute the lack of summer over here, but that big bang is missing.

The choruses continue along the same route as the verse without ever lifting off. If these guys are to succeed and have a long career they have to introduce that massive sing along chorus or beat, something often makes or breaks a chill out band such as this.

Don’t get me wrong, they sound like they are enjoying themselves and have achieved everything they want to on this record, yet I find I am constantly waiting for the big line or beat which never arrives. This could be a good thing I suppose as the album is overall a consistent listen and easy on the ear, but in the end Limits of Desire just seems to leave a little bit to be desired.


Release Date 13/05/2013 (JAGJAGUWAR)

G’day folks. I’m an Australian traveller who is still sulking because I have found myself living in enemy territory. I like to discover places with decent music scenes so its no surprise I’ve been in Manchester for two years now. I’m a typical you’ve heard it all before music lover who tries to see the positives in every band.