Ohio’s Saintseneca emerged from the underground into the spotlight with their last release, receiving critical acclaim for the richly textured and switchback paced Dark Arc. Less than a year later, the band are back with a new album; Such Things. Inspired by vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Zac Little’s exploration of modern physics and spirituality, and driven by the addition of a permanent drummer – rather than the plastic trash cans and stomp boards that Saintseneca tended towards, and often destroyed, in their early days.
Setting out to write songs that held a continuous groove, Little wanted to mould Saintseneca’s style around a pop structure – one that moved steadily forward through arrangements, rather than the jolting changes of direction that characterised Dark Arc. Something that is evident as the album opens with the title track, Such Things, driving forward at a good pace and carrying the momentum throughout. Layers of sound build up to Saintseneca’s usual cacophony, with the elements sitting comfortably over the top of more electronic sounds and the rock edge to a full kit of percussion. Even the quieter, mandolin based How Many Blankets Are There In The World feels like it is pushing forward with meaning, rather than meandering in the usual folksy way. Saintseneca are just as successful is their stripped down moments, Little’s voice has a harsh tone than balances with the sweet mandolin.
The pop sensibility comes out in more than the structuring on tracks like Soft Edges. Propelled by a deep piano line, Little’s vocal edges on a deep whine that almost feels like an 80’s throwback. A feel that is broken by the more folk rhythms that come into play on the bridge, but the combination works well for them. Leaning on an almost indie style on Lazarus, with a pulsing bass line and slow beat, there’s a touch of reggae about it that lends a summery feel which is reenforced by a fluttering synth moment.
Little’s assertion that Such Things was inspired by quantum physics and the theory of a cosmic ocean of energy, isn’t exactly evident in the songs. Something that is possibly a relief, Saintseneca are assuredly vibrant and energetic but that would be a difficult concept for a folk rock band to carry off. However, Such Things is an excellent new offering from Saintseneca and one that should hold that spotlight.