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(Item no.: 555)
Label: Beggars Banquet
Released: 2001

Both recovering Goths and fans of singer/songwriters should be able to agree on Sheehy’s sophomore release as a solo artist since he broke away from Dream City Film Club. While his trademark token nods toward a dark aesthetic are still around on Ill Gotten Gains, it’s pretty clear that Sheehy’s much more interested in becoming a singer/songwriter than staying entrenched in the world of moody rock. Still, there’s a lot more character to his music than that of the typical singer/songwriter.

Although Ill Gotten Gains inexplicably opens up with the title track to last year’s Sweet Blue Gene (Beggars Banquet), Sheehy’s latest album is strides forward from his first appearance. The poignant arrangements have only found better footing within Sheehy’s low-key world, whether it’s with gentle, meandering organ melodies and a jazzy bass line ("Love Insane"), or the snarling, nasty distorted guitar that knocks out blues riffs ("Wha’cha Gonna Do?"). There’s a solemn equilibrium that precariously balances Sheehy’s tunes on the brink of becoming too introspective, though they never fall into that category.

What’s more developed on this album than his arrangement skills is Sheehy’s lyrical perspective. Searing self-confession pops up when Sheehy confesses his long list of sins to his son ("Michael Jnr") or lustfully attempts to write off infidelities as human nature ("Just a Word"). Ill Gotten Gains isn’t just a musical confessional booth for Sheehy, however, as he tries his hand at old-fashioned storytelling balladry ("No One Recognized Him") as well as outward-looking commentary on the world’s masochistic streak ("Some People Love to Get Hurt"). Although Sheehy’s less-introverted moments are far from clumsy, they’re nothing when placed against his forte, the brutal confessional. Done with an unapologetic honesty, Sheehy freely admits his sins without even hinting at remorse. It’s a chilling effect.

The world’s a dirty place full of dirty people, and Sheehy gives a voice to that world. Things may not be cheery on this album, but Ill Gotten Gains gets down to reality without the pretense or self-aggrandizement that so frequently comes with such a confessional album.

- Matt Schild

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alternative / singer-songwriter
1 Sweet Blue Gene (3:57)
2 Mystery Train (4:18)
3 No One Recognised Him (4:00)
4 Some People Love To Get Hurt (4:13)
5 Michael Jnr (4:39)
6 Love Insane (5:34)
7 Just A Word (4:18)
8 Tired Old Love Song (4:23)
9 Wha'cha Gonna Do? (3:39)
10 Black Hole Is Waiting (Baby Let's Go) (5:12)
11 Let It Be Love This Time (5:02)
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