Friday, July 29, 2011

Syd Barrett - The Madcap Laughs

★★★★★ Tracks:
Love You
Dark Globe
Here I Go

Syd Barrett felt like he might just be one bad trip away. While Pink Floyd was the soundtrack to the fun, hallucinogenic trips of my high school days, Syd represents what happens after you indulge too much. Paranoid, delusional trips that you can’t escape, engulfing six or more hours of your life at a time. Things you never even thought might bother you begin to itch and claw at your mind, leaving you paralyzed and helpless. Syd knows all about it, but unlike most of us who stay away from the stuff after a bad trip or two, he kept at it, damaging his already unstable psyche stemming from his adolescence. And it’s no wonder Pink Floyd was so worried about Syd’s decaying frame of mine and its effects on the band, he was the best songwriter the group produced to this day.

The Madcap Laughs is a difficult and depressing record, but it shines brilliantly. Even the more upbeat tracks have an undertone of deep isolation and paranoia. “Here I Go” is a little swing track which is somehow eerily up-tempo, almost as if the notes being played by the guitar are hiding an undercurrent of madness. Syd Barrett is heartbroken by a girl he likes who doesn't like his songs, preferring the big band he was once in. On “Love You” Syd Barrett uses strange and incoherent wordplay mixed with a bizarre, carnival-like piano line to capture his feelings for a woman.

For the most part though Syd plays slow, wandering guitar lines and sings in suggesting riddles, as his melancholy songwriting bleeds out unto the microphone capturing his loneliness in space and time. “Dark Globe” is especially heartbreaking as Syd pleads, “wouldn’t you miss me at all!” to a successful band that no longer needs him. But the best song just might be the opening track, as Barrett wittingly sings of two fish in love.

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