Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Reviews:: Small Sins Mood Swings

After hearing bits and pieces of Small Sins debut record, I was instantly smitten with Thomas D'Arcy electro pop style. Well, just in time for Pop Explosion, he's back with the follow up, Mood Swings, and a more fitting title I can't imagine. Somehow he managed to make a pop record; one that escapes any classification and still appeals to a broad stroke of listeners. Sure there are still pleasant electronic undercurrents, but you'd be trying to force a square peg into a round whole if you called it an electro album.

In fact, over the course of the thirteen songs that make up Mood Swings, D'Arcy touches on country, folk, electronic, chamber music, pop, rock n' roll, and even plays the role of singer song writer, sometimes in the same song. After hearing the first record, I'm not sure you'd expect him to write a song like Bullet; an acoustic, sing with your eyes closed song that uses beautiful string arrangements to add extra emotion. But that's exactly the point: I don't think D'Arcy wants you to be able to toss him into one genre.

Instead, this record - most of which uses guns as a metaphor (so I will try to avoid making any of the normal - explode, blow up type references) - is a diverse collection of songs that should help Small Sins make a name for themselves. The poppy melody of the album opener - I Need a Friend - helps break down any preconception you might have about his songs. The organic textures that loop in and around the electronic elements really take on a Talking Heads feel, but are completely contrasted the banjo laden pop track that follows (Morning Face). D'Arcy's vocals on this track could easily be found on UK rock record, and really showcases the expansion of his song writing abilities on this release.

He constantly transitions into new styles. The piano driven number On the Run somehow perfectly balances elements of the Beatles with the vocal interplay and energy of the Scissor Sisters (so B-Rob might think this is the best song ever). The falsettos and out-of-nowhere guitar solo gives a modern twist to the simplistic Fab Four stomp. On the Line is another straight ahead indie rock song where the band balanced the driving drums with some electro noodling, nice harmonies and a huge chorus.

For those of you who fell in love with the electro anthems he created, fear not. Tracks like the infectious Drunk Email and It Keeps Me On My Toes are catchy electro-pop masterpieces. Drunk Email is as catchy as you'd imagine when you think about a song about the modern day version of the drunk dial and is perhaps the lightest song on the record (which comes at the perfect time, after the slower pace of Prove Me Wrong), heavy in hand claps, double tracked vocals and computer blips. Plus I love the lyric, "I won't have the heart at sunrise."

But I have to say the beauty of this record are the tracks that let D'Arcy and his band meld styles and he closes the album with a bang as a result. D'Arcy sequenced the record nicely, exposing the listener to a multitude of styles and influences early, and then steamrolling you with a collection of songs that blend the styles together. Airport is an up tempo electro bopper, but the perfectly placed strings add the perfect organic twist to make the song stick in your brain. On a Mission is a darker track that is influenced by Sea & Cake and would fit well into a Fugiya & Miyagi set, but instead of simply repeating their names, D'Arcy uses clever one liners like, "thirsty like a diabetic." (ED NOTE: this answers Phife Dog's question, when's the last time you heard a funky diabetic……….. lyric)

This record might take some of D'Arcy's fans by surprise, but more accurately, it might take the indie world by storm.
MP3:: Airport

Small Sins is going to rock the bells at Hell's Kitchen on Thursday Oct.18th. Can't be a bad idea to check that out before busting out to see Two Hours Traffic.
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Posted at 1:55 PM by ack :: 0 comments

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