On The List :: Small Black @ Mercury Lounge [3.7.10]

This review runs, in radio edit shine on Bowery's Houselist.

In an appropriate coda to the fading electro craze of the last five years, newly dubbed "glo-fi" bands stepped into a void that perhaps didn't exist. Small Black is exactly one of those bands, not quite original but more likely a sharp, revisionist critic. After all, the lo-fi synth movement managed to fire this electro-impulse through muddy, underwater effects and fuzz, finding rough choruses and beauty in something intentionally broken. If Justice was a metaphorical Saturday night, Small Black is slow-drive, contrarian Sunday morning.

With multi-colored lights echoing around the front of the stage, Small Black appeared four-across, opening with "Weird Machines." Not the least bit ironic, even given the collection of technology on stage, the song is endemic of what makes the band such an intriguing prospect; it is both anthemic and intentionally drowned in cold medicine reverb. In what is now typical response, the crowd moved their feet and nodded their heads with vicious and responsive purpose. Running through the bass-heavy, "Lady In The Wires" and some unreleased material before closing with the anti-hit hit, "Despicable Dogs" and the closer, "Bad Lover," Small Black defined something both steeped in criticism and concerned with contemporaneity.

As the lyrics to "Despicable Dogs" - "do it without me/do it when I'm gone" - sailed out through flashing light and moving humanity, there attached no extra significance as the second to last song of the night. In ways, the pathos was the narrative movement from bands obsessed with the dance floor to bands making similar music in their bedrooms. This is the soundtrack to a Breakfast Club generation that never received a detention, a soundtrack for the kids who actually enjoyed staying home. If Small Black isn't crushing your Saturday night, and this was a Sunday, they are the blinking, blurry eyes of a Sunday morning, criticism and coffee in the kitchen.

Listen :: Small Black - "Despicable Dogs"


Luke T. said...

I don't buy it. Flash in the pan fad work. Not real songwriting...byproduct of bad bedroom reverbs and distortions. Ashame that people consider this music.

32feet said...

I think part of what we're watching is a revisionist movement but that doesn't necessarily make it a bad one. I enjoy the EP and suspect the full record (due in the fall) will be pretty tight.