Helium, the fourth album from HOMESHAKE (the solo project of Montreal based producer Peter Sagar) is another woozy meander through dreamlike synths and echoing vocals. Sagar has come a long way from his roots playing rhythm guitar for Mac DeMarco, with Helium containing almost no remnants of DeMarco’s jangly guitar pop that remained present in previous HOMESHAKE projects. For Sagar this signals a promising, newfound idiosyncratic sound of his own, amplified by the fact that Helium was produced entirely by Sagar within his bedroom in near solitude.
With complete artistic control on Helium, Sagar has been able to delve deeper into synths than ever before. Using the Roland Juno 60 he creates sleepy lo-fi beats which lure the listener into the album’s surreal vision. The very first lyric on the album (“everyone I know lives in my cell phone”) introduces ideas of disillusionment with modern urban life and subsequent isolation resulting from it. This theme is particularly apparent on album highlight ‘Just Like My,’ which opens with the somber line “guess it’s been a few days now since I left the house” delivered in Sagar’s signature wavering falsetto.
It’s not all gloom, however. The single ‘Nothing Could Be Better’ is a great and unexpected love song backed by a seductive beat. Helium has a particularly honest and intimate feel to it in terms of both subject matter and sound.
The album strikes a balance between languid instrumental interludes and beautifully bassy beats. There are tracks like ‘Trudi and Lou’ which you can turn down and fall asleep to and tracks such as ‘Just Like My’ that you can turn up and wake up to. This most recent release from HOMESHAKE resembles a calming oasis amongst an expansive millennial desert of constant notifications and social pressures. Just like a dream, Helium offers a brief escape from reality and with his newfound artistic direction, it seems likely that Sagar will continue this escape in future releases.
Image: Jeff Marquis via Flickr