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Small Sins' 'Friend' Makes a Perfect Introduction

As MP3s lessen the importance of album sequencing, the purpose and context of a great opening track can get lost in the shuffle. At its best, a great lead-off song not only introduces the listener to a new artist or a new creative direction, but also sets the course for the entire album to follow. Small Sins' "I Need a Friend," which opens the new Mood Swings, says everything that needs to be said about the band's electronica-tinged folk-pop sound.

The group began as a solo project for Thomas D'Arcy, a Toronto-based singer who wrote, performed and produced Small Sins' self-titled debut by himself in his home. Its follow-up, Mood Swings, employs the help of producer John McEntire and adds more musicians to fill out the songs with lots of synthesizers and tightly harmonized backing vocals. But the spotlight remains fixed on D'Arcy's skill in merging captivating hooks with pensive self-awareness.

With a memorable opening line — "If you give me the gun, well, I'll shoot myself in the foot / and I wanna be different this time, but I know that I won't" — D'Arcy cleverly exposes his self-deprecating honesty about the inevitability of failure. He plainly admits the nature of life's mistakes and the need for a catalyst to help him "get back on my feet again." By juxtaposing a heavy-hearted theme with hypnotically dreamlike keyboards, Small Sins crafts a perfectly tantalizing, bittersweet introduction.

Listen to yesterday's 'Song of the Day.'

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Mike Katzif