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Limits of Desire

Limits of Desire

by Small BlackSmall Black


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Implied by the cover of two nudes embracing on a ladder, Small Black's second album showcases a stripped-down, more organic side of the chillwave group. Previous releases (2009's self-titled EP and to a lesser degree 2010's New Chain) epitomized the gauzy aspects of chillwave, but Limits of Desire attempts to showcase their talents as a full touring band and not just the bedroom project of one member. Featuring Josh Hayden Kolenik (keys, vocals), Ryan Heyner (guitar, keys, vocals), Juan Pieczanski (bass, guitar), and Jeff Curtin (drums, percussion), with trumpet accompaniment by Aaron Rockers on three tracks, Small Black have moved from cloudy cassette tape to a big, live studio room approach for their sophomore full-length. However, with the synthesized warble toned back and a higher production value added, this album grasps for a sense of style, lacks a standout single (a "Photojournalist," "Camouflage," or "Despicable Dogs"), and falls closer in line with the sterile, generic sound of deep cuts on '80s radio. Despite some nods to contemporary pop (pumping side-chained compression), Limits of Desire's sound is based in classic soft rock and synth pop, at times resembling an indie take on 10cc or Alphaville. Fellow artists of their genre M83 and Neon Indian fattened up their lo-fi haze as they became more popular, but even with the studio upgrades of Era Extraña and Hurry Up, We're Dreaming, these groups managed to retain the charm that drew people to their music. If New Chain found Small Black taking chillwave to the mainstream, Limits of Desire sees the band fully crossing over and losing its individuality in the process. That's not to say it's all bad. Kolenik's lyrics, while ambiguous, are filled with heartbreak, and perfectly anchor themselves amidst the dream pop wash of the midtempo ballads. The textures are excellent, the songs are OK, but as a whole, it just doesn't pack the emotional punch of earlier outings.

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Product Details

Release Date: 05/14/2013
Label: Jagjaguwar
UPC: 0656605220826
catalogNumber: 52208
Rank: 80891


  1. Free At Dawn
  2. Canoe
  3. No Stranger
  4. Sophie
  5. Breathless
  6. Proper Spirit
  7. Only A Shadow
  8. Limits Of Desire
  9. Shook Loves
  10. Outskirts

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