So did you hear that Matt Sharp was putting the Rentals back together? Too bad for him that one-man band Thomas D’Arcy has already recorded the best album the former Weezer bassist new wave unit never put out, in the comfort of his parents’ basement, no less. And while you’d be led to believe that a home-recorded album of this kind would harbor the quality of a Moldy Peaches demo, “Small Sins” had me double checking the back cover and liner notes to see if I’d find “Produced by Todd Rundgren” written somewhere in fine print.
This simple, sensational 11-track LP finds the Canadian prodigy making the most of his debut, or at least the debut of his latest project, as D’Arcy has been playing in bands for the last 12 years. Birthed with a 707, some Moog keyboards and a 16-track board, the songs on “Small Sins” would fit nicely into a rock block alongside the latest Grandaddy and Death Cab singles.
But while D’Arcy’s slice of life tales of junkie chicks and the suckers who fell for their shtick are very much modern prose, they could’ve have easily been fighting for airplay on MTV during its first week of broadcast. Songs like “Stay” and “All Will Be Fine” sound best when providing the new soundtrack to a muted version of “The Last American Virgin,” while “Threw It All Away” suggests what New Order would seem like if they really went organic. And then you get something like “It’s Easy,” a classic little slice of blue-eyed electro soul far more deserving of mainstream attention than Ringside. Hopefully the HBO execs are listening as well. — Ron Hart