Ladies and Gentlemen Small Sins

Ever since Canada was first introduced to the Ladies and Gentlemen via the inclusion of their single "Stay” on the 2004 Boompa Records sampler, industry blurbs comparing them to acts like Grandaddy and the Postal Service have been bandied about with abandon. And indeed, the similarities are there — what with the precious little keyboard lines floating over strummed acoustic guitar, unflinchingly mid-tempo drum tracks and dreamy, half-breathed vocals about feelings — but this is far from just a pleasant rehash of the aforementioned bands’ brand of bedroom pop. With Small Sins, ex-Carnations front-man Thomas D’Arcy takes it a bit further, offering a brilliant collection of sweet, achingly addictive pop tunes that are at once soothing and upbeat, just as comfortable pounding out of a dance floor speaker as they are drifting out of the stereo next to your pillow. Anchored by the looped synths and falsetto backups of the hopelessly catchy "Stay” and "Threw It All Away,” and the revelatory "At Least You Feel Something,” Small Sins knows what it is and plays it to perfection, with D’Arcy laying down a set of silky, heartbreaking and instantly re-playable songs that in the end, culminate in what is one of this year’s smartest and most endearing pop albums. (BOOMPA!)