Published Oct 19, 2015Small Black's third album manages to remain blissful even while reliving hard times. On Best Blues, the Brooklyn band translate pain into synths that gleam brighter and warbling riffs that are both silky and sludgy as they explore some of the most visceral emotions of their career. It all makes for some of their best songs yet.
After a woozy sandstorm of cymbal crashes and echoing riffs introduces the first two tracks, a glaze of electronics come thumping in on "Boys Life," a vivid account of cleaning through a shed after Hurricane Sandy that somehow combines personal woes and an upbeat shimmer to create a pretty bumping dance track. Throughout the album, lead singer Josh Kolenik's soothing vocals are often fluttery and loose, carefully navigating a road paved with poignant mementos that seem to get less and less sad once you get to smoother jams like "Between Leos," a minimal, starry-eyed slow burner that employs lush textures to woo the listener. Near the end, "Checkpoints" takes a new wave shift, with drum machine putters and silky twangs leading their catchiest tune on the record.
With all the memories, both good and bad, unearthed on this album, Best Blues finds Small Black holding their composure, even when it seems like it'll be a total bummer. (Jagjaguwar)