Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound Engineering by Patrick Stolley
It's hard to tell which ones the Toronto band is referring to with its moniker. Sifting through the indiscretions - the ones that typically aren't just no-nos or flubs or boo boos - but the ones that the red devil pays closer attention to is not for the hobbyist. The smallest bads are usually thought of in that cuddly way by the very same person who committed them, the one who turns a coy couple of doe eyes down to the shuffling feet and discusses the rights of all to a certain number of white lies - like mulligans - ad nauseam.
All over the band's self-titled debut and the newest record Mood Swings, the five-piece grants us all of the eavesdropping delights, back-lighting the very points of reference for us to determine for ourselves - the jury - whether they indeed are minor offenses or they should be held fully accountable for all of the shitty social and relationship-y things they've gone and done. There are incidents galore on Mood Swings. There are episodes and reoccurring instances that percolate and bubble up over the top of everything. They simmer and wait like a crocodile beneath murky water with just two beady eyes flopped up black on the surface and a strong set of hungry jaws floating inches below. White lies and the littlest sins have the same bite rate and jaw power as the monsters, perhaps even more, those needling pests. The biggest sins can be punished, but the littlest kind of just linger around in spoken or unspoken infamy, breaching the walls of being here and then being forgotten and then zooming right back to the forefront in a hair's trigger notice. Lead singer Thomas D'Arcy is wracked with turmoil on Mood Swings - some self-constructed and some of the other origin. He's unsure what his lady's up to when he's gone. He's got his enemies working for him because "they take every chance they see to separate the good seeds from the bad seeds." He needs help and hopes that his friends (enemies?) will help him and the road always sounds to be slippery, covered in a devious layer of black ice - imperceptible to the naked eye until a snarling collision and explosion materializes in front of them.
The band has the same taste in weapons as Gnarls Barkley does - choosing the pearl-handled hand gun that Jack Ruby used for his deed - compact and efficient - splashing it on the cover of the record and signifying that there's business happening in the seedier, pulp fiction parts of the stories held inside the staples, between the center crease. The music creeps along with some of that dark matter that makes it feel ominous (remember The Toadies?) and then there are the Cars-ish keyboards and huge billboard choruses that can happily rot all of the teeth out of your mouth and then go one further and rot all of the future teeth you may grow should you ever be reincarnated. The duality of the music and the messages seem to help boil down just how sins and everything involved with them are never one or the other, but a muddy puddle of good and bad, wrong and wronger, he said and she said, the light and the leaden. Many times the anvil drops right on your head and makes you see birds and sometimes the anvil stays in the air like a good airplane - maybe it will never drop and you keep all of the fingers on both of your hands crossed for that specific reason. D'Arcy sing's, "You know I'd shoot you if I only had a gun" on "On the Line" and it illustrates how it all really is. The person that gets shot can oftentimes be the one loved by the hand that holds the gun in better days. Love swings to hate, optimism does too - desperation allows this, all of the trappings of the greater sin.
Click here to visit Small Sins' myspace page.