Review Summary: Wade on, wade on.
The only thing I could say after listening to Saintseneca’s sophomore album was “wow”. It seemed like it was just yesterday when a friend showed me their debut LP, “Last”, which pretty much floored me in terms of instrumentation, lyrics, and songwriting. Sure, the production wasn’t perfect, but it was a pretty good fit for the sound they were going for.
With their new album, entitled “Dark Arc”, the band’s sound reaches a new plateau. The acoustics are brighter, the percussive elements are extremely creative and well executed, the vocals are sharper, and everything about this band is just bigger. In the opening track, a line from the previous album’s “Wonderlust” is reprised in a brand new way, as if to send a message that this is a new era for Saintseneca. “Wade on”, they sing, clad with beautiful harmonization, drums, and clapping that make the listener want to get up and sing along with them. That’s not the only element borrowed from the previous album; “Happy Alone” features some vocal-work that is very similar to Last’s “Missing Dogs”. That isn’t to say that they just re-did the same song and changed up the lyrics, because “Happy Alone” has a much fuller sound in general. I just like to think of it as an old song being put to rest. That’s what I think about the album as a whole as well. This album takes pretty much everything that Saintseneca was trying to do with their previous effort and sharpens it up. The concepts are fully realized in Dark Arc; there’s never a point on the album when I question what the band is doing.
The album gets bolder as it goes on. By the time the second side comes around, the drums/percussive elements are so powerful that I find it hard not to move to it. Paired with the quiet finesse of the acoustic guitars and mandolin (and banjo?), the songs are accessible yet unique in their own right. Vocalist Zac Little’s singing has never been more on point. He’s always been a great singer, even in the band’s early days, but with this release we really see his full potential. His falsetto in the first and last track is well controlled, and when it’s mixed with his raw vocals I start to consider that he may be one of the most unique vocalists active today.
One thing I really love about Dark Arc is that it includes some quieter, more atmospheric transition songs. This sort of thing is relatively new for Saintseneca, but I find that it significantly aids the flow and momentum of the album. Also, the reprise of the lyrics from the first track in the short and sweet “So Longer” is almost tear jerking, and transitions perfectly into the folk anthem, “Uppercutter”. I find the balance of grandiose tracks and softer tracks very tasteful.
Lyric-wise, you can expect similar themes to the last album. As always, Saintseneca is very clever and well thought out in their concepts. Off the bat, I hear themes of loneliness, being “stuck inside your own head”, and growth/death in the tracks. I don’t want to quote any lyrics in this review, just because they haven’t been posted yet, and I wouldn’t want to get any of them wrong.
The composition on Dark Arc is superb. There is such a wide variety of instrumentation, including songs that are bass-driven. This album is catchy; more so than “Last”. These songs will get stuck in your head until the lyrics are all you hear, and even then, you’ll find yourself singing them constantly. That’s the case for me so far, at least. Dark Arc is Saintseneca at their essence. Their debut LP charted out the skeleton, and now, the band’s soul has been realized. Saintseneca can go wherever they want from here. I’m more excited than ever for this band.
Fav Tracks- Blood Bath, Daendors, Happy Alone, Takmit, Visions, We Are All Beads On the Same String
Least Fav- Dark Arc (still a good song, just a bit boring compared to the others)