With an intentionally brighter personality than prior Here We Go Magic LPs -- from time to time even managing outright infectiousness, if of a trippy, textured variety -- the band's fourth long player, Be Small, is a more modest production than their last effort, the Nigel Godrich-produced A Different Ship. A self-produced home recording made with the core of just leader Luke Temple and guitarist Michael Bloch, it still bears Temple's usual tension between pop and free-form, and with other performers lending a hand and Temple behind the wheel, personnel may be a technicality. The album's lead single, "Falling," is a catchy, kaleidoscopic celebration that jumbles love, sleep, dreaming, memory, and metaphor ("Who is the lucid in your mile high dream") under the guise of a chipper chorus ("You're falling…falling in love"), with an ending that "could pull the rug out from an upright man." Similarly, on the scathing "Candy Apple," distorted guitars and synths combine with percussion for a rhythmically fetching head-bobber while Temple's layered, patented falsetto sings wryly of "here in the New York City," including "we spread our legs of restlessness to grab our piece of pie." (He takes on income inequality and more, elsewhere.) The musical tone gets more sincere and the lyrics more introspective for the intimate synth-folk ballad "Ordinary Feeling" and the elegant, British Invasion-conjuring "Girls in the Early Morning." While the majority of Be Small feels upbeat, it remains lyrically pensive and full of unexpected musical turns and passages (the title track floats through modulations while channeling '70s funk and dramatic soft rock). It's often tricky both songwriting- and production-wise to try to distinguish between Here We Go Magic and Luke Temple solo material, though HWGM remains more impressionistic on the whole. Here, maybe it's best not to worry about attribution so much as be glad Temple keeps creating, and in his unpredictable and appealing way; Be Small is loaded with simply good, interesting songs.
AllMusic Review by Marcy Donelson