Small Black, ‘New Chain’ (Jagjaguar)

Last year’s self-titled EP from this Brooklyn quartet, then a duo, was poignant, lo-fi synth-pop sung by a wisp of a guy already worrying what would happen “when I’m gone.” Live gigs backing up Washed Out further marked Small Black as persons of interest in the chillwave scene. Their debut album, mixed by Nicolas Vernhes (Animal Collective, Cat Power), brings a sharper sound to those wobbly keyboard lines and crisp ’80s snares, but somewhat blurs their emotional impact. Still, there are enough gently pleading choruses (“Photojournalist”) and sun-baked slacker sighs (“Light Curses”) to evoke yet another deadbeat summer.


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