by Connor Bush (@coldandscared)
“Tim Darcy is a fucking poet.” Julie Byrne may have said it best while opening for Darcy at a recent Brooklyn show. For his Jagjaguwar debut Saturday Night, Darcy pens a three part reflection on Joan of Ark, an enigmatic instrumental intermission, two radio friendly existential crisis singles, and a hand holding ballad to end it all (the excellent: “What’d You Release?”). Squeeze in spurts of experimental bowed guitar noise, low fi haze, and small scraps of distant, blown out vocals, and you have a glimpse into the journey Saturday Night will be taking you on. If you ever felt like “Forgiveness” doesn’t really fit on Darcy’s prominent band Ought’s More Than Any Other Day, but enjoyed it nonetheless, then you are ready to enter the world of Saturday Night. If you ever examined Tim Darcy’s swagger, which may be best described as Canadian Cowboy™, mixed it with his slurred poetic stage presence, and wished he would go in more of an Iceage direction, then look no further. If you ever felt depressed from listening to hours and hours of Ought’s relentless nihilistic abandons, listen to Saturday Night. This time around, Darcy beckons more than he pushes away.
On Saturday Night Darcy exchanges the snide remarks of Ought for more painful self reflection and altruistic challenge. When he asks, “If at the end of the river/ there is more river/ would you dare to swim again?,” it doesn’t sound malicious; it sounds genuine. Part of the change may be from his new collaborator, Charlotte Cornfield, who provides the drums on the record, and who recently put out her own excellent folky album that featured Darcy, Future Snowbird. The folk influence shows heavily on the interlude “First Final Days,” an upbeat, ethereal respite from the madness that, in style and purpose, recalls Deafheaven’s “Irresistible”. The respite readjusts the energy so when Darcy dips back into the existential dread of scraping guitars, it feels less helpless than before. The optimistic anchor provided by opener “Tall Glass of Water” and the ode to suicide prevention in “You Felt Comfort” make the moments of discord feel less ominous, turning them into necessary moments of pain to reach something greater.
The choice to balance the nasty with the beautiful on Saturday Night allows the nasty to be appreciated more fully. Choosing to bring back the choral voices from “Tall Glass of Water” to haunt Darcy on “Saturday Night” gives the album cohesion and journey, turning the voices into something more off putting than they would have been alone. When Darcy hits the bottom on “Found My Limit”, another darkly beautiful folk track, the sludge appears more crystalline, and references the braggadocios claim Darcy made earlier that he is not afraid to go under once again. The journey leads Darcy to exhaustion and empathy on the closing lyrical track, “What’d You Release,” where he considers the effect of breathing, while acknowledging a group effort in seeking meaning by interspersing the line “yeah, I get it” amongst his musings. Saturday Night reveals a more personal side of Darcy that stands out distinctly from his antagonistic work with Ought, retaining enough bite to be vital while showing enough humanity to earn further contemplation. Where he will go from here is pretty much anybody's guess, but as long as he keeps writing poetry, we'll probably all be fine.