When Syd Barrett departed Pink Floyd for a solo career after (minimally) contributing to A SAUCER FULL OF SECRETS in 1969, expectations naturally ran high. Aside from being Floyd's primary songwriter, singer, and guitarist, Barrett had already developed the reputation for being a twisted child prodigy. Taking a turn away from Floyd's complex layered psychedelia, Barrett's solo debut, MADCAP LAUGHS, revealed the singer/songwriter to be a somewhat gentle, reflective poet. Although MADCAP is not as lyrically obscure as most of Barrett's work with Floyd, the album nonetheless proves that Barrett could mutate a simple love song ("Love You," "She Took a Long Cold Look") past the realm of the expected into something chilling.
The plaintive voice-cracking wail of "Won't you miss me / won't you miss me at all?" in "Dark Globe" could just as easily have been directed at a departing lover or the fanbase that Syd was separating himself from at the time through chemical abuse and reclusive behavior. The most compelling song lyrics on MADCAP, however, were not even written by Barrett, but by fellow spiritual expatriate James Joyce. The unlikely collaboration "Golden Hair" is among the most haunting songs ever committed to vinyl. MADCAP is a rich distillation of the triumph of creativity over self-destruction.