Tim Darcy is no stranger to introspection. As the singer/guitarist of exuberant Montréal-based art-punk quartet Ought, he's wrought thoughtful lyrics that delve into the nature of creativity and cast a critical eye on the mundane. These traits persist on his first solo effort, even as the songwriter jettisons his band's jittery rhythms for a more laidback approach.
In fact, Darcy feels more like an easygoing troubadour than an anxious David Byrne acolyte on Saturday Night's early tracks. His limited instrumentation usually consists of wiry rhythm guitar, rudimentary drums and non-insistent bass.
This conventional approach works when Darcy's songs have a direction. "You Felt Comfort" lends the album a little bit of garage-rock grit, and "Still Waking Up" is tranquil without feeling stagnant. Unfortunately, "Tall Glass of Water" and "Joan Pt. 1, 2" linger on a single verse before slowly transitioning into new sections that, despite their rollicking rhythms, fall quickly into a monotonous groove that the lyrics are too cryptic to escape.
The album hits its stride when Darcy's self-conscious streak seeps in. He trades his choppy strumming for a shrill bowed guitar on the title track, and his doubtful intonations have all the sweet vulnerability of a Roy Orbison performance. "Found My Limit" hinges on repetition, but his spare arrangements render his uneasy mantras striking.
Saturday Night is a confident debut from a creator who's best when he seems uncomfortable. So long as he keeps evading his comfort zone, Darcy's songwriting should remain potent for years to come. (Jagjaguwar)