The story and life of Syd Barrett is a very sad one. His dad died when he was 14, he starts a successful band (which is good), he gets hooked to LSD, the band fires him, and he goes into seclusion for the rest of his life, until his death this past July. The only album that he was with Pink Floyd for was the much appraised “Piper At The Gates Of Dawn”, which was, for the most part, a Syd led album. While going and playing various shows, Syd started doing drugs, LSD for the most part. The band members got fed up with him and his antics, and kicked him out of the band. After not doing anything music related for 3 years, Syd released two solo albums in 1970, the first one, being “The Mad Cap Laughs”, the second, “Barrett”. Even though the anticipation for “The Madcap Laughs” was high, many people thought that “The Madcap Laughs” missed some basic focus and structure, and also had additional problems as well, so after the release of “The Madcap Laughs”, Syd started to work on “Barrett”, to make up for the miss judged “Madcap”. Barrett is an interesting piece of work. Some of the songs on here are exceptional, yet on others you could tell that they aren’t that great.
The one point that people made when "Madcap" first came out was that it wasn’t organized well, and it wasn’t produced that well, either. The good thing about “Barrett” is that it is a lot more organized, and a lot better produced than “Madcap”. On some tracks on “Madcap” the guitar playing is very sloppy, such as If It’s In You, and Dark Globe. On another track, Feel, the vocals are sloppy, the guitar playing isn’t that great, and on one particular occasion, Syd stops and talks to the producers towards the end of the track. Unlike these occurrences, there is nothing like that on “Barrett”. The only sloppy track on this album is probably Wolfpack, because of the acoustic guitar riffs, which sounds a lot like the sloppy acoustic guitar playing on “Madcap”. Aside from that, the tracks on this album sound pretty good for the most part.
The album starts off with Baby Lemonade. After the guitar part at the beginning of the song, everything comes in, and you can tell this song is going to be bleak and depressing. Another thing about Baby Lemonade is its lyrics. With lyrics such as “I’m screaming, I met you this way,” and “Your nice to me like ice,” it makes the song sound even more miserable. But even though Baby Lemonade might seem like a sad song, it is actually a very good tune. It shows how much Syd can still do even though he’s “insane”, and it also shows that his lyric writing skills haven’t left him. Along with Baby Lemonade, another one of the headline songs on this album is Gigolo Aunt. (laugh it up all you want, but it’s a very good song.) Even though the guitar part is off at times, there is a great keyboard part that carries the song, which gives Gigolo Aunt a nice, lied back feel to it. Effervescing Elephant is a change from every other song on this album. One of the shortest songs on the album, Effervescing Elephant has a tuba part, and a quiet acoustic guitar part played by Syd, and some witty and interesting lyrics. Effervescing Elephant also shows us that Syd still has a childish side as well. Along with these three main songs, some of the other songs are, Love Song, with playful lyrics like: “I knew a girl and I like her still she said she knew she would trust me and I her will... I said: OK baby, tell me what you'll be and I'll lay my head down and see what I see.” Dominoes is a song with a spacey guitar and keyboard part, while Syd sings the lyrics. Dominoes is another famous song off this album along with Baby Lemonade, Gigolo Aunt, and Effervescing Elephant. As you can tell, “Barrett” has a lot more notable songs than “Madcap”.
So, is “Barrett” better than “The Madcap Laughs?” In some ways yes, and in some ways, no. There are a lot of more well known songs on this album, but, it in some ways, Madcap’s lyrics and songs are better. Is this anything like Piper? No, it isn’t. It doesn’t have that psychedelic feel to it, so if you liked Syd in Piper, he is a lot different in this. Syd fans should definitely pick this up, and if you’re not a fan of Syd’s, it’s hard to adapt to at first, but after awhile, you get used to his spacey type of music. “Barrett” is a lot different then anything the Floyd ever put out, and it’s also a lot different then music from today, but that is what makes this album special and unique. The final verdict? A 3.5/5.