Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Thomas D'Arcy: "What We Want" (album review)

What we want here is a solid record with catchy tracks.  What We Want, the debut solo album from Small Sins' Thomas D'Arcy (out February 5th), goes a long way to delivering that.

The true strength of D'Arcy's music comes from his lyrics and delivery.  In a skill that seems to allude most songwriters, he manages to be poetic without being pretentious.  Despite a vocal sound that sometimes comes across as a disembodied Julian Casablancas, D'Arcy conveys his thoughts with a subtle passion that is honest and infectious.

This all comes together on the leisurely swooning "The Price You Pay".
"Help Me Clear My Mind" is a methodical, mature pop song with hooks that don't hit you over the head, but rather achieve their goal through nuance.  Somehow, D'Arcy's lyrics and charm even make the bad reggae of sway of "When We Get Into It" work.

The album's most rocking moment comes in the form of "Goodbye My Friend".  It's a buzzy track with just a little bit of squeal and oomph, all powered by a Spoon-like bounce.  The standout, however, is "Credit!".  The song is a lyrical master-stroke, backed by a catchy, lightly-chugging arrangement.

What We Want isn't a perfect record.  Some tracks miss the mark.  The title track, for example, is a doo-wop misstep that even D'Arcy's clever lyrics can't overcome.  The darker twist on "Talking On the Phone" doesn't go quite dark enough, and the spacey "Love Will Bring Me Down" never strikes a chord.

What We Want is an album of solid, if for the most part unspectacular, pop rock songs.  Even if not every song is a winner, none are terrible, which is a very hard thing to say nowadays.  You can feel safe leaving this album playing in any kind of company and in any kind of mood.

Thomas D'Arcy plays a record release show at the Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto on February 9th.

Best tracks: "Credit!", "My Time Is Short"

Track listing for What We Want:
  • I Can't Wait
  • I Wake Up Every Day
  • The Price You Pay
  • Credit!
  • Talking On the Phone
  • Love Will Bring Me Down
  • When We Get Into It
  • Help Me Clear My Mind
  • Goodbye My Friend
  • What We Want
  • My Time Is Short
7.5/10

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