Release Date: May 28, 2013
Record label: Arbutus Records
Genre(s): Electronic, Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Electronic
“For it is doubling that elicits the notion that to an original has been added its copy. The double is the simulacrum, the second, the representative of the original. It comes after the first, and in this following, it can only exist as figure, or image. But in being seen in conjunction with the original, the double destroys the pure singularity of the first.
Montreal's DIY-driven Arbutus Records is experiencing A Moment, boasting a roster led by now-bona fide superstar Grimes and fleshed out by the likes of Doldrums, Braids, and Blue Hawaii. Their sounds may be disparate, but they're united by their desire to tackle questions of identity from unique and exciting perspectives, which makes Arbutus' latest release (from one of its earliest signings) a strong fit. Edmonton transplant Sean Nicholas Savage put together three full-lengths in 2011, suffered through the end of a relationship, and decamped to Berlin, where he wrote and recorded Other Life, an album largely shaped by that romantic turmoil.
In 2011, Canadian songcrafter Sean Nicholas Savage released not one but three separate albums with Montreal label Arbutus Records. All three proffered different windows into the prolific singer's weird little world, one of smooth R&B-informed crooning filtered through art school conceptualization and production rooted in the dancier side of the indie sphere. With Other Life, Savage crystallizes the sonic persona he's been cultivating with a few incredible slices of dark dance pop and a fractured take on quiet storm-style late-night soul jams.
It should be noted that Sean Nicholas Savage’s previous album Flamingo, something like his ninth release in three years for Arbutus Records - though it’s unlikely even he’s counting - was a cult curio so highly regarded in certain circles its standing could rival that of any Montreal export of the last decade. Why the fuss? Some would highlight the ruffled élan later polished on his friend Mac DeMarco’s Captured Tracks debut. Others would point to a sense of youthful wonder rarely captured this side of dusty Beach Boys LPs, its form somewhere between home video and secret diary.
Lanky hip blond Sean Nicholas Savage can easily be summarised as ‘Ariel Blue’. Master of the slightly scary genres of soft rock, faux funk and cod reggae, he rides this chilling wave with a very now mix of irony and genuine celebration. He’s mad prolific: three albums in 2011 alone, about nine in the past few years, depending on how you count.
Since Grimes's breakout success, Montreal weirdos are stepping out of their Mile End lofts one by one to take their turn in the spotlight. But while artists like Majical Cloudz and Mac DeMarco garner huge praise in Pitchfork circles, Sean Nicholas Savage remains relatively underground. Despite the Savage tribute album released early this year, he's still more Daniel Johnston than Leonard Cohen.
A cornerstone in the recent wave of Canadian breakthroughs – alongside Grimes, The Weeknd and Dirty Beaches, to name a few – Sean Nicholas Savage has been the overlooked driving force behind Montreal’s budding music scene for quite some time now. Not one to procrastinate either, he already has nine albums to his name in half as many years. But having taken a – by his terms – slightly lengthier break to experiment with his sound, ‘Other Life’ finds Savage seemingly attempting to slip out from under the radar and follow in the line of his peers, dropping the more up-tempo arrangements in favour of slicker and mellower takes.‘She Looks Like You’ eases the new approach in effortlessly.