Small Blacks have announced they will release their new album Limits of Desire on May 13 through Jagjaguwar. They shared the first single this week along with the album art and tracklisting.
The cover of the album, shot by Dutch artist Scarlett Hooft Graafland, serves as a sort of visual source code for its themes. How are our desires limited and how, in turn, are we limited by them? Featuring a man and a woman embracing on either side of a ladder, the two are completely naked, divided by its triangular span – close but unable to get any closer. It is a moving depiction of modern connectivity and interaction.
Limits of Desire is built off the back of the 2010 album New Chain and their self-titled EP released in 2009. The album is a crystallisation of Small Black’s synth-pop sound. Together the four piece, Josh Hayden Kolenik (keys, vocals), Ryan Heyner (guitar, keys, vocals), Juan Pieczanski (bass, guitar) and Jeff Curtin (drums, percussion) have moved past the hazy, bedroom-recorded feel of their previous releases with a refined sound that pares back embellishments, trading dense layers for space and clarity of vision.
This was achieved, in part, with the addition of live drums, electric guitar and trumpet to the band’s sonic palette. Speaking with SPIN recently, Kolenik pointed out these changes saying: “New Chain was hyper-layered collage-y by design and as an artist you always want to fight against what you did last…as you get a little older and more learned in your craft, you want to show everything and not hide behind multiple vocal takes or any sort of haze.”
The first single, Free At Dawn, is very reminiscent of Pulp’s sound in the 90s with the beginning sounding very much like the introduction to a Pulp song as it starts faded and then builds to something dramatic. Free At Dawn sounds very similar musically to Pulps hit, Do You Remember The First Time. Basically, if you like Pulps 90s synth-pop sound, you’ll love these guys. Free At Dawn is a pleasant, relaxing number blending 80s and 90s synth-pop with modern indie vocals. It starts as a far away rumble and builds to a climatic end.
The tracklisting for Limits of Desire was also released this week and can be seen below:
Free At Dawn
Only A Shadow
Limits of Desire
If you fancy catching Small Black live, their tour dates are as follows:
March 14 – Austin, TX – Secretly Canadian, Jagjaguwar & Dead Oceans Showcase @ SXSW
March 15 – Austin, TX – FILTER Showcase @ SXSW
March 16 – Austin, TX – Official SXSW Showcase w/Vampire Weekend