Oct 272010
Authors: Nic Turiciano

For a genre of music that is as easy on the mind as it is on the ears, getting a hold of what exactly chillwave is can be absurdly frustrating. In fact, there’s a good chance that the sound will fall far out of fashion before it’s even quantified.

But if chillwave were to be a true genre, and if it was actually definable, I would have to say that Small Black’s “New Chain” would be a prime example of it.

The band’s formula of heavily effected vocals, vintage synthesizers and drum loops makes its music accessible no matter what it does.

In fact, the only moment on the entire record that could be described as ‘off-kilter’ is the first few seconds of album-opener, “Camouflage.” But the song quickly drops into a head-nod groove that persists throughout the rest of the album’s 10 songs.

At times, the reliance on 1980s synth-pop influence gives way to other more varied sounds.
A personal favorite, “Goons’” heavy beat and siren-esque synthesizer lines sound straight thug (if such a thing exists in a genre that is markedly thug-less).

The album’s most distinct track, “Hydra,” borrows heavily from the Animal Collective sound, relying on little more than a click track and hazy vocals. Disappointingly, though, is that it’s one of the easiest tracks to skip over.

Therein lies the catch with “New Chain:” If it isn’t a head-nod track, then it’s not worth listening to. The layers of sparkly noises and groove beats don’t leave much room for substance or risk.

Thing is, substance is a bit overrated. There’s enough “meaningful” art and information thrown at us on the daily.

This album may wear thin in a short amount of time, but that’s okay. For now it will drown out all of the important stuff in life as I listen to it in between classes.

Music reviewer Nic Turiciano can be reached at verve@collegian.com.

 Posted by at 4:15 pm

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