Recommended activities while listening to Small Black’s new single “Boys Life” include:
• Staring out the window from a train in the rain;
• Driving through a wintry landscape, preferably through the neighborhood where your old crush used to live;
• Gazing at the distant people below as your plane departs or lands;
• Standing at the rear of a ferry boat watching the water froth and dissolve.
… in other words, doing anything that cultivates what the Brazilians call saudade: that deliciously deep feeling of melancholy and longing often resulting from missing someone you love.
The New York City-based band Small Black delivers a lovely, pulsing 5:01 minutes of saudade in “Boys Life,” the first single from its forthcoming album “Best Blues” (October 2015). Its propulsive beat lifts what might otherwise just be an achingly sad song into a dreamy fog that I happily played on repeat until it was time to shut my computer. It’s a synthy, fuzzy hand-knitted sweater of a tune.
If New Wave is no longer a bad word then I hope lead singer Josh Kolenik won’t be offended if I compare his singing to “Boy”-era Bono—back when U2 was still considered a post-punk band and his vocals wafted out and over the melody adding one more element to the ambience.
Small Black, comprised of Josh Kolenik (lead vocals/guitar), Ryan Heyner (guitar/keyboards), Juan Pieczanski (bass/guitar), and Jeff Curtin (drums). shares that early-80s sensibility. I doubt the band’s name is a response to the legendary Steve Albini noise machine Big Black; like Morrissey, they wear black on the outside ‘cause black is how they feel on the outside.
It’s not only a small black, it’s a soft black. And it’s so pretty.
Listen to “Boys Life” here: