The Ladies and Gentlemen
The Ladies and Gentlemen — or, more accurately, Tom D'Arcy, previously of The Carnations — makes a stunning debut with Small Sins. D'Arcy, the sole writer, performer, and producer of Small Sins, demonstrates a definite ability to write meaningful, captivating music. His unique stylings — which are, at times, heavily electronic, and at others, simple three-piece pop-rock — stand out for their simplistic overtones, yet subtley entrancing basis. An excellent example of such is "Too Much to Lose," an upbeat piece that features a single repeated two-note keyboard riff; while it may seem droning and inane, D'Arcy's vocals and guitars emphasize the repetition in such a manner that not only does the song not feel incredibly boring, but the two notes are infused with some imaginary variety by their surroundings.
Repetition being the basis for D'Arcy's tracks as The Ladies and Gentlemen doesn't seem far-fetched at all, in the context of Small Sins — in fact, it seems quite reasonable. As a result, Small Sins, at times, feels similar to an art project gone slightly astray; rarely does D'Arcy really venture beyond a very basic underlying two-chord — or, at times, three-chord — structure in Small Sins. Even as such, D'Arcy manages to create an intriguing set of tracks — likely even more so than if it were a straightforward working on similar musical overtones.
Forefront in D'Arcy's compositions are his lyrics, full of emotion and intrigue. One example of such are the lines "Tax season's coming in / The car's not running and / Parties seem less fun," in "Threw it All Away." This personal quality in the lyrics, fused with D'Arcy's breathy — but uniquely melodic — vocals, really brings the most important points of Small Sins forward for easy viewing. Despite an apparent lack of musical spontaneity, The Ladies and Gentlemen breathe an air of importance into their music, and, not surprisingly, listening to the whole of a track becomes not a chore, but an imperative task; D'Arcy manages to invigorate his music with an urgency — one that doesn't seem it would be present in a musical structure that, at it's core, is essentially composed of sets of two or three chords.