Tim Darcy – Saturday Night - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Tim Darcy – Saturday Night

by Jon Burke Rating:8 Release Date:2017-02-17

In recent interviews the band Ought has expressed some mild frustration with the endless comparisons their sound receives to that of other, more popular, acts. Mentions of The Fall, Talking Heads and Richard Hell are peppered throughout ad nausea reviews of Ought’s albums. Though the critical reverence for those musical referents makes for high praise, Ought wishes their output would be allowed to live or die on its own merits. With that in mind it's interesting Ought frontman, Tim Darcy, chose “Tall Glass of Water” to be the lead single for his forthcoming solo record, Saturday Night. The song is a brilliant little pop gem that is immediately reminiscent of the best of the Velvet Underground and solo Lou Reed records. Then, just as listeners become comfortable with Darcy’s Reed-ian homage, Saturday Night quickly moves into stranger, more musically complex, territory. If Saturday Night is anything, it’s eleven tracks showcasing Tim Darcy’s versatility, talent, passion and musical potential.

As an opener, “Tall Glass of Water” is an unqualified success. It’s catchy in the jangly guitar pop style of 1970s NYC rock n’ roll. Adding to the aural pleasure is Darcy’s unique, slightly-nasal, delivery which on Saturday Night, much more than his work with Ought, is a voice evocative of Roy Orbison as much as Lou Reed or Mark E. Smith.  With that said, the best element of “Tall Glass of Water” is its unique breakdown which results in a tempo change, the endlessly quotable line:  "If at the end of the river, there is more river, would you dare to swim again?" and concludes with a beautiful chorale arrangement outro. It’s all gorgeous and nearly impossible to top – though Darcy certainly makes a valiant effort on a number of Saturday Night’s less accessible tracks.

Saturday Night’s second track, “Joan Pt. 1, 2” feels a bit like an early Scott Walker or Kinks song that slowly transitions into a spaced-out Flaming Lips style acoustic moonshot. “You Felt Comfort” is a sweetly sentimental song immersed in a bath of fuzzy guitar noise. “Still Waking Up” features vocals from Darcy at his most Roy Orbison-esque, set over top a catchy piece of pop that would have found a comfortable place amongst Magnetic Fields’ 69 Love Songs. “Found My Limit” is a beautiful spare, haunting, bit of acoustic guitar.  “Saint Germain” feels like it should have been the album’s closer as it builds toward its reverb-heavy, droning conclusion.

Less successful is the album’s title track, “Saturday Night” which features a steady beat underpinning an off-kilter guitar caterwaul and Darcy’s deep monotone haunting his way through spooky lines like: “All that’s left of me/ Is what I know”. The distorted, feedback-heavy, guitar noodling peppered throughout the song is interesting but ultimately suffers from the complete minimalism of the track. The same goes for “Beyond Me” which continues the drone experiments but this time without any vocals or rhythmic anchor for balance.

Ultimately Saturday Night is an odd record. It gives listeners both barrels of pop glory with its opening track but then drags them deep into its creator’s musical psyche with all that follows. It’s an off-putting record to say the least and that disquiet lends itself to a desire to listen to the whole album over again. Those who spend Saturday Night with Tim Darcy will leave hungry for whatever he does tomorrow.

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