Saintseneca’s Pillar of Na is 36 minutes of pure alternative folk-rock bliss. With 19+ unique instruments ranging from guitar to cello to a marxophone, there is plenty of creativity for the 4 members and all 15 people listed for instrumentation in the album credits.
The first track, “Circle Hymn” is an acapella sung by what sounds to be a small choir in a church, with all the reverb you would expect. It is a beautiful opening track which ends with a swelling instantly cut off by the second track, “Feverer”, with a fuzzy bass and acoustic guitar reminiscent of Neutral Milk Hotel. Although repetitive, Feverer’s rhythm does not fail the song by any means and is extremely catchy. “Beast in the Garden” is one of the heaviest tracks on the album, but does not feel one bit out of place. If you weren’t paying attention you may heart right through the sweeping cellos throughout the track, which is a testament to just how talented this band is. The fourth and poppiest track of the album, “Ladder to the Sun,” was the first track that I felt the vocals truly stood out and made me go back through just to hear what I missed on the first few tracks. Directly following a very produced and poppy track enters the lo-fi goodness that is “Good Hand.” A very stripped back song with what sounded to be only a guitar, vocals (from multiple members of the band), and a piercing bass with plenty of fuzz and reverb, might be one of the most beautiful tracks on the album, ending with a very ethereal, and almost eerie swell that easily could have closed out any single album.
The first half of the album makes a very clear statement that seems as if it is almost forgotten about in the second half. The most notable tracks out of the back half being “Denarius” and “Timshel” tracks 7 and 8 respectively. Denarius is more of a classical song with vocals than anything else, but still very infectious. Instantly you hear a gritty cello and violin, only to be interrupted by a silky smooth viola. With one of the best vocal performances on the album, it makes for (sort of) interlude from the rest of the tracks. “Timshel” does seem to follow alot of the same patterns as “Good Hand,” as they are both lo-fi, with very minimal instrumentation, and a very big swell towards the end of the track, but that does not mean that the two sound anything alike. The title track (and final) may be the most ambitious, but being nearly nine minutes long feels very daunting to sit through. Pillar of Na, although not as experimental as I think Saintseneca can be is a very strong step forward and very promising for future releases.
Recommended If You Like: Neutral Milk Hotel, Ratboys, Waxahatchee
Recommended Tracks: 2 (Feverer), 3 (Beast in the Garden), 4 (Ladder to the Sun), 5 (Good Hand), 7 (Denarius), 8 (Timshel)
Do Not Play: N/A
Written by Cole Billings on 10/04/2018