Metascore
68

Generally favorable reviews - based on 18 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 10 out of 18
  2. Negative: 0 out of 18
  1. Nov 15, 2010
    60
    Small Black haven't quite mastered balancing their newfound polish with memorable songs, but New Chain's sound is so appealing that it could be considered one of the first chillwave albums aimed at the mainstream.
  2. Nov 15, 2010
    80
    Although there is much which doesn't automatically burn itself to the cerebral cortex, the standout sections are not found rooted in melody but in the less obvious aspects, like the siren-styled synth motifs of Goons.
  3. Nov 15, 2010
    80
    Small Black proves it isn't merely the finest exemplar of a fleeting trend, but the best possible crew to be on top when the wave (finally) breaks.
  4. Nov 15, 2010
    70
    If it's quality songwriting you're after, you've probably come to the wrong place this time, but what New Chain does offer is a 35-minute celebration of the spirituality of sound, bursting with life and soul, as thrilling as it is giddying.
  5. Dec 23, 2010
    60
    Mostly these songs seem slight and shy, unable, really, to support the massive facades of synth and disco drums that Small Black layers onto them.
  6. Dec 22, 2010
    52
    Where's the NoDoz? Chillwave may have officially become too chill, bros.
  7. Dec 20, 2010
    60
    Small Black are more convincing when they move into sharper focus. [Dec 2010, p.96]
  8. Dec 22, 2010
    60
    New Chain is unmistakably chillwave, undeniably fashionable within the American music scene right now, but doesn't half make you yearn for a bit of sunshine.
  9. Nov 15, 2010
    72
    New Chain, with it's gorgeous smattering of vivid synth patterns, is "Despicable Dogs" reupholstered: It still feels like a sunrise bike ride with a head full of weed, but this time in full-blown technicolor.
  10. Nov 15, 2010
    70
    Small Black sometimes gets lumped into the chill-wave trend, sharing bills and fans with acts like Washed Out and Real Estate. The band shouldn't take it to heart-they clearly have more to offer than contentedly stoned background music. They'd do well to explore their own record collections again and not get caught up listening too intently to the music of their tourmates.
  11. Dec 21, 2010
    65
    Listening to New Chain, there's no reason now to think that Small Black can't put that fine touch to making an album with a tight balance between their drowsier sensibilities and their hookier, head-nodding ones.
  12. Dec 20, 2010
    60
    Their first full album polishes some rough edges down to a soft-focus burr as synths eddy away in a fog of sound that is often only given direct form by the haphazard beats beneath. [Dec 2010, p.113]
  13. Dec 21, 2010
    75
    Small Black isn't interested in courting that level of drama however, and though New Chain can come across as naggingly unmemorable at times, with one slippery synth melding into the next insistent bass thump, there's enough here to warrant returning for the odd refresher.
  14. Nov 16, 2010
    63
    At this stage, Small Black are a charming but undeveloped outfit. Moving from an aquarium to a sea (or even a pond) would be an intriguing next step.
  15. Nov 15, 2010
    60
    They are making pretty, tightly structured pop songs cheaply, or at least pop songs that sound cheaply made, and pretty, and melancholy, and somehow detached and futuristic.
  16. Dec 16, 2010
    60
    A gooey, iffaintly sickly, treat. [Nov 2010, p.101]
  17. Nov 17, 2010
    70
    New Chain, the dreamy debut album from New York's Small Black fulfills much of the promise of last year's Small Black EP with a cohesive collection of drunken bedroom pop. [Fall 2010, p.62]
  18. Jan 13, 2011
    75
    In all honesty, New Chain isn't so very different from the rest of the Bushwick bulk. What is worth returning to, however, is the fact that the music offered is effortlessly lovely, memorable, well-transitioned, and oddly addicting.

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