Cheap Dreams by Small Black album review by Randy Radic for Northern Transmissions

100% Electronica

8.5

Small Black

Cheap Dreams

Brooklyn-based chillwave outfit Small Black will release their new album, Cheap Dreams, via 100% Electronica on April 9. A while back, in October, Small Black released “Tampa,” their first song in five years. It’s been six years since their 2015 album, Best Blues. During the gap years, the band’s members have been going about the business of day-to-day life and, it now appears, somewhere in there, writing new music.

When Small Black initially garnered attention in 2009, their sound fit neatly into the chillwave category, highlighting lo-fi sounds and fuzzed-out surfaces. Since then, their sound has stretched-out to include amalgamations of both lo-fi and hi-fi elements. Yet Small Black’s backbone – harmonious vocals –remains intact.

From a subjective point of view, although the entire album is excellent, there are four do-not-miss tracks on Cheap Dreams, beginning with the first track, “Tampa,” which opens on gleaming, effervescing colors flowing into a deliciously undulating melody. Finessed, precise percussion drives the rhythm as oscillating tones ripple overhead, accented by platinum guitars. Josh’s dreamy tones infuse the lyrics with drifting filaments of nostalgia.

“Duplex” rides shimmering coloration atop a thumping kick-drum. Once the melody takes hold, the tune assumes dream-pop tangs merged with chillwave textures. The focus of “Duplex” is the gentle, deluxe falsetto of Josh Kolenik, at once sensuous and creamy, imbuing the lyrics with soft yet glossy coloration.

Twirling and swirling, the intro of “Driftwood Fire” rolls into a light, syncopated rhythm capped by scintillating, coruscating hues. Josh’s voice conjures up memories of Christopher Cross, both in tonality and inflection, giving the lyrics silky tendrils rife with suggestions of pop flavors.

“The Bridge” travels on an elegant, floating piano backed by velvety, strident strings, and then moves into a dazzling almost new wave cadence juxtaposed against the elongated vocal timbres, indulgent and luminous. The tune culminates on a glowing wall of shiny layers, polished to a sumptuous sheen of sonic washes.

Other noteworthy tracks comprise the title track and “Dunes.”

The quintessential track on Cheap Dreams is “Tampa,” simply because of its depth, scope, and luscious blend of three intertwining strata of textures, along with an alluring aura of suppressed energy. Cheap Dreams was certainly worth the wait.

Pre-order Cheap Dreams by Small Black via 100% Electronica HERE