Small Black

Real People

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On their second full-length, 2013's Limits of Desire, Small Black took another step away from the murkily lo-fi chillwave they started their career with, opting for a slick and glossy sound that owed a great deal to the mainstream-y synth pop of the '80s. The Real People EP that followed in early 2014 moved away the midtempo, super-clean heartbreak pop that made up the bulk of Desire and instead made a leap for the dancefloor. There were a few tracks on Desire that nodded toward propulsive movements of hips and feet, but here the bandmembers make it clear right away that they are interested in moving bodies as opposed to tugging heartstrings. The soaring, chugging title track that kicks off the EP is instantly danceable, with the keys, lead and backing vocals (provided by Frankie Rose), and drums working together to make the song into something that would play very well on a percolating dancefloor. Of course, the second song, the introspective ballad "Lines of Latitude," brings the mood down right away, but if you jump past that it's right back to bright and bubbly dance-pop for the next two song, the echoing "Consequences" and the DFA-ready "Reconstruction." Even the cover of the Blue Nile's rain-slicked "Downtown Lights" that rounds out the EP has perky synths and a driving beat. The more rhythmic approach suits the band well, as does the shift in production techniques, as the sound is overall less pristine and more texturally rich, with plenty of reverb and sonic gunk keeping things from getting too smooth and functional. It was a wise move for Small Black to reinvent themselves this way; they sound more at home making happy danceable pop than they did making shiny, unhappy pop.

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