Monday, November 15, 2010

Pot Calls Kettle Black - Small Sins

Pot Calls Kettle Black

Small Sins
Arts & Crafts Records.

SCQ Rating: 75%

It’s hard to forget Small Sins evolved from The Ladies and Gentleman, even if you never heard that mid-2000s band in the first place. Between his regularly updated website and promotional writing around the release of Pot Calls Kettle Black, Thomas D’Arcy still seems caught in the aftermath of The Ladies and Gentlemen’s demise and calls the past two years of public inactivity his “dark period”. Not one to shy away from his emotions, D’Arcy has integrated them as undercurrents for his latest electro-pop collection, Pot Calls Kettle Black.

From the lush opening of strings and soft bass, D’Arcy’s title track professes a major ace up its sleeve: producer John McEntire (of Tortoise and Broken Social Scene fame), who adds a certain sheen over these tracks. The choice of producer suits the utilitarian strengths of D’Arcy’s songwriting, leading to little songs that feel embossed with glossy finishes. Quaint confessions get magnified in the moody arrangement of ‘My Dear’ until it sounds like a Death Cab for Cutie song and ‘Tonight’ works no differently, its resignations blown up with ivory cascades and a pounding drum-machine. If you hadn't guessed amid all of these band-comparisons, D’Arcy’s voice (as both songwriter and vocalist) fits snugly into pre-worn song-structures and McEntire takes advantage with stylish arrangements that speak pop from different indie-genres. The electronic leanings of ‘Never Again’ evoke the perky undertones of Junior Boys while ‘Where There’s Gold’ gives melancholy a widescreen swoon similar to The Go Find.

We won’t try to sugar-coat it,” D’Arcy incites during ‘Tonight’ but the full orchestral flourishes behind him say otherwise, and the record thrives off of its contrast between songwriter and producer. Whether that sense of irony is why it’s called Pot Calls Kettle Black in the first place, I don’t know, but Small Sins should finally worm its way out of D’Arcy’s past with such satisfying results.


jt said...

I feel like I should buy this based on cover art and album title alone.

SCQ said...

It's a comfortable record, and those are always kinda underrated in my eyes. You might dig, JT, you just might...