Recorded over a six-month time frame parallel to Ought’s sophomore LP sessions, Tim Darcy’s solo debut Saturday Night has the air of a side project to some extent, but manages to harness the vitality Darcy brings to proceedings with the day job, imbued with a sense of moments stolen and seized. This is not your archetypal Saturday night, but rather one with a focus on introspection and reflection.
It’s jerky, fraught and simple yet hook-rich and for the first half at least, calls to mind songwriters of the calibre of Lou Reed, Roy Orbison and Jonathan Richman. This is a record of two halves to a degree, a more accessible, direct initial stretch gives way to a more dissonant and complex closing run. This is not to say that the second half is any lesser. In fact, it is a challenging, fascinating venture throughout.
Known as singer/guitarist of one of the more vital groups operating today in Ought, Darcy delivers an economical, often melodic tour de force on this, his first solo LP. His distinctive vocals thread together the entirety of the record that feels like a document of a creative overflow. Darcy evidently needed an outlet, and Saturday Night goes on to run the gamut from ‘You Felt Comfort’, a brazen Neutral Milk Hotel pastiche, while ‘Still Waking Up’ is the swooning, keening highlight of the album. Whereas his persona fronting Ought can often lean on a sneering Mark E Smith style snarl, here Darcy croons and emotes like never heard previously.
This gives way to a glacial, dissonant second half of the LP, epitomised by the instrumental ‘First Final Days’. Darcy rambles, rants and incants his way through an unnerving, squally title track, while ‘Found My Limit’ is a folk song deconstructed, a muted finger picked melody sputters along as Darcy intones darkly.
Darcy has succeeded in delivering a long player bursting with ideas and adventure, even the most widescreen, accessible moments are covered in a reverb laden, ethereal haze as we join a voyage to an indiscernible destination. At times ramshackle but primarily hugely endearing, the likes of the initially frantic ‘Tall Glass of Water’ evokes Ought but with a looser undercurrent that grinds to a slower, more swaggering second half, calling to mind ‘Transformer’ era Lou Reed as Darcy queries ‘Well the questions are being asked/Is it fate? Or is it popsicle?’
It’s a bloody good record, Tim.