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‘Limits Of Desire’ is Small Black’s most accomplished album yet. It’s a crystalline realization of a sound they’ve been building toward since their self-titled EP in 2009.
Now a full-time four piece, the band have moved way beyond the hazy home recorded sound of their previous releases toward a full-fledged, but still self-produced, clear approach. Where 2010’s ‘New Chain’ was a lesson in maximalist pop, ‘Limits Of Desire’ finds the band trimming their sound to the essentials, yet hitting new and unexpected heights, with the addition of live drums, electric guitar and trumpet to the existing Small Black palette.
Tonally the songs sweep and glide over lush keys, bolstered by lyrics that illustrate the semi-abstract moments of lost opportunities and misread signs, hinted at by the cover image. The title track whirls softly, and channels luminaries Tears For Fears and The Blue Nile.
‘Free At Dawn’ and ‘No Stranger’ do what fans have come to love Small Black for, only better. They’re smart pop bangers tinged with a specific brand of melancholy that slowly build to night-affirming climaxes, while ‘Breathless’ ups the tempo, over synth stabs with lyrics that tackle apathy and uncertainty with catchy grace.
The band build on a rich history of synth pop by making a thoroughly modern album, on both the front and back end. One that seeks out cohesion, connection and calm in a world that won’t sit still. ‘Limits Of Desire’ doesn’t attempt to provide any solutions, but coming to terms with not finding the answers feels infinitely more fruitful.