by Tiana Feng
Release Date: February 5th, 2013
Label:Thomas D’Arcy Music/MapleMusic Recordings
Small Sins‘ Pot Calls Kettle Black was one of 2010’s most underrated Canadian albums with “Deja Vu”, the single featuring K-OS, the more stick-out single causing the rest of the album to be underappreciated. Though Small Sins was the project of Thomas D’Arcy (who also fronted The Carnations), he has decided to finally make music under his own name for the first time with the album What We Want.
Though there is a solo mentality to this new record, at the very heart it still sounds like a Small Sins record with Thomas D’Arcy’s recognizable voice and his signature bouncy electronics and hook melodies. What We Want could be considered as one of the “most personal” albums of Thomas D’Arcy’s career. Compared to his previous repertoire, there are some dark underlying themes including mortality and alcoholism.
D’Arcy sets the tone right away with the slow moody opener “I Can’t Wait” full of tension build up that doesn’t resolves into the next track. “I Wake Up Every Day” deals with the subjects of changing bad habits and constant hangovers. The bouncy rhythm and bright melodies juxtapose an otherwise depressing track. There are a few tracks that allude to alcoholism (or perhaps drugs) with the later “Goodbye My Friend” as a sung farewell to these destructive habits. Considering these recurring themes and the album being the more personal, you wonder if the singer actually had some distressing moments.
Pot Callls Kettle Black fans need not to fear because What We Want has moments that satisfy the needs of previous fans. “Help Me Clear My Mind” and “Credit!” honours the sparkling melodies especially in the latter’s line, “You take ’em up higher, to make them fall further.”
The album has its contrasting moments from the brighter tracks to the crooning “Talking On the Phone” with effective use of dynamic range. The slower “Love Will Bring Me Down” plays with a droney atmosphere full of echoes and reverberations is one of the weaker tracks on the album, with the strings seeming too produced and the track seeming longer than it is. Thankfully “We Get Into It” follows with an interesting swing rhythm.
Whether you are a returning Small Sins fan or is just delving into the repertoire of Thomas D’Arcy, “What We Want” spins dark themes under some glossy tunes.