In an episode of Portlandia
, a character played by Kristen Wiig becomes maniacally obsessed with a local band—her
local band. While displaying much less folly, I too know the feeling of intense possessiveness surrounding a band. In my case it is Saintseneca, a kitschy little folk band I first discovered huddled on the tiny stage of Kobo in Columbus, Ohio. The band appeared right at a time when I was becoming comfortable with my city; right when I was beginning to fall for the place I was calling home. Playing with utmost intimacy, the band was captivating to behold, and suddenly the tiny local band had become my
Saintseneca were always destined to become bigger than the dingy bars they were playing during their infancy. With their second record, Dark Arc
, it should come as no surprise that the band has expanded their sound into more daring territory. Featuring the same “stompy” folk aesthetic that made Last
such a marvel, the band’s sophomore effort feels very comfortable and familiar. However, being granted more exposure has allowed Saintseneca to grow into a much more mature group. Each song contained within the album is a distinct and evocative piece of an entire whole. They sound more sure of themselves than ever, making Dark Arc
an enjoyable and vibrant display.
Where the band excels is in their ability to sound as big as possible while still retaining an overwhelming sense of intimacy. There’s a lot of clanging and cacophony surrounding the weakly strained vocals, which for the uninitiated, would sound like a dozen band members pounding away at their instruments. Yet in pieces like “Fed Up With Hunger,” the band displays masterful restrain, as the spaces between the music provide and evocative sense of drama. Conversely, the massive and messy climax within “Falling Off” is a barrage of carefully constructed noise and it’s absolutely engrossing. As multi-instrumentalists, the members of Saintseneca are able to provide an ample amount of variety. “Tamkit” and “Daenors” feature a ton of unconventional stringed instruments that feel absolutely pitch perfect with the overall aesthetic. Dark Arc
oozes rustic charm thanks in no small part to the laissez-faire production that allows the band to shine. The album feels neat and tidy while still feeling rough around the edges.
On paper, not a lot differentiates Saintseneca from the glut of indie-folk bands that saturate the scene. Unlike the rest of the crowd, however, the band offers up an unparalleled sense of wonder within each song. Featuring members wise beyond their years, Saintseneca have crafted a dense and personal record that contains a staggeringly mature and refined sound. Sure I may still cling to them, steadfastly declaring them my
band. However, with their intensely heartfelt and unique songwriting, there is no reason that they should not be everyone’s band.