Still definitely pop, Small Sins' second album is rich and tech-heavy, but mostly made of rock. Main man Thomas D'Arcy brought his touring band into the studio for Mood Swings, and together, they created a passionate, but chilled, digitalized rock gem. There's an understated melancholy vibe throughout the thirteen tracks that allows each instrument, electronic or otherwise, to shine with little effort.
With the melodies and lyrics that D'Arcy sings on Mood Swings, it's difficult not to think of the album as pop-oriented, but there's a lot going on behind them. On the opener, "I Need a Friend", spacey effects and a fuzzy electronic backbone drift behind D'Arcy's magnetic, fractured harmony. "Morning Face" is a down-tempo cruiser that runs on a binary clap track and light banjo riff while D'Arcy's vocals get another slick choral treatment. "What Your Baby's Been Doing" is a hand-me-down from The Beatles' "Your Mother Should Know" with a quirky falsetto and an occasional of Montreal-esque vocal spasm. "On the Line" even turns up the juice with a more chugging rhythm. The speed-switching on Mood Swings goes to show how well the band has mastered its new sound.
What makes Mood Swings special, though, is that just about every track has a hook, if not memorable title, too. "Drunk Email" is funny internet-era anthem, while "On the Run" has a bouncing piano track that chauffers an infectious verse/chorus and sharp guitar solo. The clubby grooves on "It Keeps Me On My Toes" and "We Will Break Our Own Hearts" can't help but draw extra attention. A lot of tracks on the album are pure pop in disguise.
Small Sins' follow-up album is long and strong with song that are very outgoing, but have a slightly darker side, too. With a sinister ability, a limited number of instruments and effects gel in surprisingly engaging ways.