Release Date: Feb 15, 2019
Record label: Universal
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative R&B
Homeshake's fourth album was made in Peter Sagar's Montreal apartment, unlike his other albums, which were recorded at a local studio. This afforded him greater creative freedom, resulting in his strangest, most detailed record yet. Far away from the lo-fi indie rock sound of his debut (although the beats on standout "Just Like My" sound like they're being blasted from the other end of the living room), this one delves further into the electronic R&B style introduced on Homeshake's 2015 album Midnight Snack.
Former Mac DeMarco guitarist Peter Sagar's latest album as Homeshake, Helium, is a watered-down detour from the cohesive "jizz-jazz"— a wretched expression in itself— found on his two previous albums Midnight Snack and Fresh Air, where jazzy chord progressions and homages to late '90s R&B were defining features. On Helium, Segar instead fills these vacancies with dopey synth patterns, his trademark vocal delivery of smooth and borderline erotic whispers and coos sound distant, as if Segar himself wasn't fully committed to what's coming out of his mouth. That's a staunch and alarming attribute for a Homeshake record— both Midnight Snack and Fresh Air possessed an effortless identity; they came naturally, as if Segar had just thrown some clothes on, hit the bowl, and pressed record.
Is it possible to evaluate art without making some assumptions about an artist's intentions? The imperfect aesthetics of indie rock offer a case study: Is the production "lo-fi" or a result of incompetent recording? Is the musicianship loose or lazy? Are those off-key vocals subversive, or can this person just not sing? This conundrum becomes particularly acute when discussing self-styled slacker figurehead Mac DeMarco and his "jizz jazz" acolytes, typified by a veneer of unctuous production that replicates the pallid soft-core of an American Apparel photo shoot. This includes Homeshake, the popular project of former DeMarco guitarist Peter Sagar. That associative context made it easier to appreciate Homeshake's previous albums of offbeat, gag-filled psych-pop.