Helium, living up to its name, is lighter than air. This is the fourth studio album for release from Homeshake, the solo project of former Mac Demarco guitarist Peter Sagar and it is one that brings a unique style to the table that is equal in its musical simplicity and emotional complexity.
Homeshake's style is whimsical in its own respect, but Helium is a definite testament to the six year musical progression Sagar has undergone, remaining true to his style. Exploring his discography, one can hear his growth clearly-- it’s a process that is in no way linear but definitive in its propensity for change. Helium lacks the R&B undertones of Homeshake's 2017 release, Fresh Air, and the easygoing guitar melodies featured on his earlier albums. Instead it takes on a synthy, hazy and self assured sound of its own. Its songs such as “Other Than” and “Like Mariah” are simplistically dreamy, introspective soundscapes sprinkled with Sagar’s soft tenor and synthesizer interludes.
Though Helium is effortless in its sound, it is that same facile nature that creates an interesting emotional complexity. The album is not overzealous or pushy. The contemplative lyrics and soft sound does not suggest a single emotional narrative or idea, or demand a visceral emotional reaction from the listener. Instead, it exists simply to exist, asking only that you occupy the same space as it, observing as it plays on.
It’s a fitting sentiment for an artist like Homeshake to express. Sagar has described his solo project as one born from a desire to compose “songs that feel grounded and intimate, even as they explore a dispersed feeling of isolation.” This was his escape from the never-ending chain of touring he experienced as Demarco’s guitarist. His work is a chance for personal artistic exploration, one he wasn’t afraid to take. Sagar produced Helium from his own Montreal apartment, a process he describes as allowing him freedom to “lose himself in pursuit of tone and texture.” It only makes sense that his music reflects this penchant for autonomy, allowing the listener the same freedom and control over their opinion and listening experience, unburdened, lighter than air.
Helium is out for release on February 15th via Sinderlyn.
Sara Ryave is currently a student studying history. Based in SoCal, she revels in the vibrant music scene and enjoys exploring and sharing music in its many unpredictable forms.