Dan Treacy has had some battles in his life, but deep down I find myself relating to him on many levels. He's gone through drug addiction, depression and other mental ailments, jail time, vagrancy, unrequited relationships, and a number of other hardships. The Painted Word is a bleak, "end of the road," yet heartfelt album inspired by these aforementioned hardships and one of his most despairing and likewise endearing efforts. Musically, its just behind Privilege as Treacy's best work. Songs like "Bright Sunny Smiles" tongue in cheek and ironically document a tormented soul's view of the world from and isolated perspective. The happy go lucky music accompanying the awfully depressing lyrics, creates a contradictory effect that works out much better than if the music would have been slow and depressing.
There's too many to choose from but I'll talk about some notable tracks. My favorite songs are the opener "Stop and Smell the Roses," (perhaps my favorite song on the record) which is about feeling a hopeless sense of one-sided love, The "Painted Word" which sounds like it could have come right out of the 60's, "A Sense of Belonging," which is a fantastic little pop number with again the contradiction of pessimistic lyrics, "Say you Won't Cry," which continues the style of melancholy pop about an unfortunate goodbye between Treacy and someone close with a sense of a hope and humor lying underneath everything, "Someone to Share my Life With," a heartbreaking ballad about Treacy's dream girl that carries a sense of longing and loneliness, "Happy All the Time" which is a another dreary, wistful, introspective track that I can really relate to as someone who has suffered from soul-crushing depression myself, and finally the organ driven, politically charged "Back to Vietnam" with its Stranglers-esque vibe, frantic vocals ("SCREAMING!"), gunfire in the background and lengthy build-up.
Those are just a few of my very favorites on this record, but every song is a gem in the rough, and makes for a near perfect album of jangly guitars, organ lines, tambourine percussion, and tight drumming combined with witty, disconsolate lyrics that make up the complete package. It's not quite as good, clean, or catchy as its follow up record which was released six years later, Privilege, which I wrote about here, but its still a very influential and solid piece of work. If you like what you hear, buy the album on iTunes, because I'm sure Mr. Treacy could use the money. In the meantime, if you don't already have this, proceed to the download link below and get acquainted with one of the most important underground bands of the last century.