Slim Charles – Small Improvements in Life and in Light (2014)

It’s always nice to get a math release across my metaphorical desk that doesn’t really overdo things. I mean, sometimes you just want something tightly constructed, yet completely chilled out to get you through your busy work. Fortunately, Slim Charles from Brooklyn, New York, just put out their satisfying new album, Small Improvements in Life and in Light to satisfy just such a need. At first, it seems deceptively accessible melodic riffs across little chunks of 4/4 drumbeats layered underneath smooth vocals but shortly thereafter Slim Charles lets us know that they mean business. Tapping patterns and start-stop rhythms highly reminiscent of TTNG make up a good chunk of what’s to be heard here.

Regardless of the inherently mathy nature, Small Improvements in Life and in Light never comes off as anything flashy; it presents itself as humble and rhythmic, a calm, emotionally charged experience that doesn’t demand your attention if you’re adamant about not giving it, but has plenty of depth if you’re willing to devote yourself to it. It works perfectly well as a set of background tunes, if that’s what you want out of it, but holds up extremely well under scrutiny. There’s plenty to love here: lots of off-the-beat playing, time signature switch ups, some awesome experimentation with tone and combination of sounds, not to mention a tendency to never miss the opportunity for a great, rhythmic fill.

Some tasting notes: The album has a wonderful flow from beginning to end, no doubt the result of some very carefully thought out structure. A lot of white space is filled with atmospherics, even between tracks, which is always a nice touch. Two things that make me happy; Slim Charles is not afraid to let the bass carry the groove when it works and not afraid to let things get heavy when the situation demands it.

If you need something a little less abrasive, a little more somber, but with all the fun little tricks that invite you to air guitar/drum/bass/whatever, go snag Small Improvements in Life and in Light from bandcamp, physical or digital, and get back to doing what you’re supposed to be doing right now.

File Under

Math Rock, Vocals, Soothing, Slow Groove, Tappity-Tap, Progressive, Dreamy, Emo, Indie

Sounds A Tad Like

American Football, TTNG, From Indian Lakes, Vessels, The Six Parts Seven, Ghosts and Vodka


$10 physical, $8 Digital (Bandcamp)


Brooklyn, New York