Saitnseneca brings simultaneously novel and familiar songs on its newest release, Dark Arc. Channeling everything from Neutral Milk Hotel, to Bob Dylan, to the Violent Femmes, singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Zac Little, along with Maryn Jones, Steve Ciolek, and Jon Maedo, crafts both a sad and blissful album largely about loneliness.
Dark Arc defines the space between light and dark with poetic lyricism and unique folk instrumentation coupled with pop, post-punk, and psychedelic elements.
Intitially recorded in a friend’s attic, the album pushed the four-piece to an entirely different level musically. Saintseneca utilizes a wide range of esoteric acoustic instrumentation, including balalaika, mandolin, dulcimer, Turkish Baglama, floor percussion, and flute intermingled with synthesizers and electric guitars, a blend it honed performing alongside bands with louder sounds in DIY house shows.
It’s a mesmerizing mix that begets a wide spectrum of emotion, and the sensation that one is listening to The Shins, Vampire Weekend, Velvet Underground, Band of Horses, The Beatles, and The Cure all at the same time.
Saintseneca sets feelings of solitude and dejection against bubbling pop in “Happy Alone.”
Little sings, “I’m not one to be three-fourths sore/When I crave a split lip I get it quick/And I’ll be alone, happy alone,” over their version of romantic post-punk before an all-band chorus of, “Happy alone.” They keep this juxtaposition up with a fun, peppy folk-rock track called “Visions” that tells a tale of seeing visions, spirits, and how people can become ghosts. The eerie story is set up against a fast-paced, foot-stomping acoustic jam.
The other side of that coin is the sweet, sad, and short track “So Longer,” one of the more obvious dirges on Dark Arc. Over a simple, sparse melodic line, Little sings, “How I long to reek of the stink inside your house/How I long to wreak all the havoc in your dreams.” In “Only the Good Die Young,” Saintseneca demonstrates its impeccable ability to build tracks, opening with a simple line, and piling on synth melodies and percussion for choruses of, “If only the good ones die young/I pray for corruption come/swift like a thief in the night.”
Closing track “We Are All Beads On the Same String” is a testament to the power of poetry set to a simple, steady bass line.
Little croons, “Don’t you let me down again/Don’t you let me down again/Don’t you let me down so gently.” It’s beautiful, heartbreaking, and leaves Dark Arc on a less than cheerful note, but it speaks to another form of loneliness; the loneliness of being disappointed and left as opposed to never having anyone in the first place.
While not a “feel-good” record, Dark Arc contains joy in equal measure to its undeniable melancholy. Saintseneca’s familiar but complex folk-punk sound creates love, romance, and lightness in an album with tracks called “Blood Path” and “Fed Up With Hunger.” They openly embrace the dark and lonesome aspects of the human experience alongside feeling bright and warm. Saintseneca’s record is nuanced and creative, and lives on the bridge between light and dark, possibly the bridge it’s referencing with a name like Dark Arc.
Saintseneca – Dark Arc tracklist:
- “Blood Path”
- “Happy Alone”
- “Fed Up With Hunger”
- “Falling Off”
- “Only the Good Die Young”
- “So Longer”
- “Dark Arc”
- “We Are All Beads On the Same String”