Back in January, Saintseneca played a pair of sold-out hometown shows at Ace Of Cups in Columbus. These were to be the unveiling of a new lineup and a chance to air out the songs they’d been workshopping for a new album. I attended one of these gigs not knowing what to expect. As someone who used to cover Columbus music for a living, I’ve been writing about Saintseneca longer than maybe anybody else, watching them cycle through members as they evolved from floorboard-stomping college kids to world-renowned folk-pop experimentalists. So I was somewhat stunned at the material they rolled out on that night.
These songs, which would become the new album Pillar Of Na, were strikingly poppy and direct while maintaining Zac Little’s knack for thoughtful abstractions and compositional left-turns. They were Saintseneca’s Appalachian DIY sing-alongs blown out to rock-star scope. The eerie power ballad “Frostbiter,” the chipper pop-rocker “Ladder To The Sun,” the ornate chamber-pop churn “Beast In The Garden” — they were all on the setlist, if I’m remembering right. They sounded awesome. And then there was this:
If I’m hearing that right, Saintseneca just played a new multi-part prog-folk-pop-rock epic referencing both “I Will Always Love You” and “Rainy Day Women” and everyone here ceased exist
— Chris DeVille (@chrisdeville) January 27, 2018
That one turned out to be Pillar Of Na’s title track and closing number. It’s almost certainly the most ambitious Saintseneca song ever, and it may be the best. It left me gobsmacked — and incredibly eager to hear the album they were preparing to record. As of today, that album is streaming in full ahead of its release next Friday. Check it out at NPR and let me know if it lives up to the hype.
UPDATE: Pillar Of Na is out now on all platforms. Listen below.
Pillar Of Na is out 8/31 on Anti-. Pre-order or pre-save it here.