Saturday Night is the first solo album by Ought singer/guitarist and former CKUT music librarian Tim Darcy. Performing under his own name, Darcy abandons his speak-singing techniques and develops a smooth and mesmerizing vocal energy. Accompanied by idiosyncratic instrumentals and delivered by means of beautifully delicate lyrics, Darcy’s vocals on Saturday Night spellbind the listener and give the album its ethereal feel.
The album’s opening track, “Tall Glass of Water,” is an upbeat tune displaying energy reminiscent of Lou Reed’s Transformer. However, it is with the album’s second track, “Joan Pt 1, 2,” that Darcy begins to shed his Ought aesthetic and reveal his individual sound. After two minutes, the song’s initial character fades and a new one – the cryptic crooner – is unleashed. From this point onwards, Darcy’s enigmatic vocals stay at the core of Saturday Night’s musical exploration.
On “Still Waking Up,” Darcy succumbs to his inner love-sick crooner. In doing so, he fuses a Roy Orbison-esque southern charisma with a more whimsical cadence, fomenting a vocal tenderness unique to the rest of the album.
That being said, the crux of Darcy’s vocal resonance shines through on tracks where he evokes the voice of Tim Buckley. Though done in an eerier vein, Darcy successfully harnesses Buckley’s beguiling vocal richness, highlighting his ability to transform the quintessential Americana voice into something simultaneously sweet and haunting. With the track “Found My Limit,” Saturday Night’s themes of rustic Americana converge with more uncanny lyrical content. Darcy’s wistful vocals, intertwined with the subtle plucking of a guitar, foster an almost Lynchian atmosphere. On the album’s title track, Darcy’s ghostly vocals are webbed into a volatile instrumental: the twangs and screeches of the song’s wavering instrumental echoes the experimentalism of White Light/White Heat-era Velvet Underground. Meanwhile, with “Saint Germain,” Darcy’s voice maintains a trance-like calmness that cuts through the instrumental clamor and perpetuates the album’s overall unearthly feeling.
Ultimately, Darcy’s solo project is wildly imaginative. Darcy takes an element of fanciful bizarreness and imbues it with a rural spirit, fusing more traditional Americana with elements of the avant-garde. At times, Darcy’s attempt to cover so much ground in one album may lead to it being slightly convoluted; however, Saturday Night ultimately succeeds as a wholly enthralling listen.
Tim Darcy plays with Molly Burch at Bar Le Ritz PDB (179 Jean-Talon O) on Saturday, Mar. 4, 11 p.m., $13
– Review by Soraya Mamiche Afara