Montréal singer/songwriter, Peter Sagar, is the man behind HOMESHAKE. Once part of Mac DeMarco’s live act from 2013 to 2014, Sagar left with no hard feelings to channel all his efforts toward his solo work. Since 2014, Peter’s released four albums under HOMESHAKE and amassed over one million monthly listeners on Spotify. I can also say with confidence that one thing that attracts me so much to HOMESHAKE is the unique nature of Sagar’s music. I have never heard anything like a HOMESHAKE record in my life and “Helium” solidifies that idea for me.
“Helium” feels like both a hypnotic state and realm of sonic limbo. Song after song is consistently engulfing the room with the sound of artificial drums and synth. The synths are slowly being pressed with repetition and focus while little bits of ear candy are skillfully placed around the track, giving a sense of an ethereal indie daydream. If I could hold a HOMESHAKE song, I imagine that I would have to be very careful since every song sounds fragile and thin (not in a bad way). With that mental image burned into my brain, I feel the urge to call these songs beautifully minimalist. When you turn on the album starting from the top, you don’t even realize you’re halfway done with it until you look at the tracklist. I believe this to be because of a combination of things. One being the cohesive nature of the album; all beautifully blended together with seamless transitions. Two: the fact that four of the twelve tracks (excluding the “Secret Track”) are instrumentals.
A really important aspect of “Helium” that I admire is the quality of Sagar’s lyrics. Yes, the lyrics are relatively simple, but they’re blunt, relatable and introspective. One song that particularly caught my ear is track nine, “Other Than.” The song seems like an expression of Peter not finding satisfaction in the material world or specifically financial success. As well, as falling into the routine that everyone else has blindly melted into. Yet, it is his girlfriend who he finds solace and fulfillment in.
“Walk a little different these days/Seems like things are going my way I guess/Still could stand to talk a little less/Maybe it’s the pain in my chest/Book is by the side of my bed/Probably read my phone instead of it”
Then again, this is to be no surprise since Peter has publicly addressed the reality that he is a very homebound person and prefers to spend most of his time just hanging out back in Montréal.
“Helium” is a perfect album if you want something soothing and stripped down for background music. If you’re just going to kick it alone or have a couple people over, I think it’s absolutely ideal. “Helium” is a mesmerizingly neutral sounding record. Slotted at 33 minutes, it both flies by and sounds like a daydream. I’ve listened to it near 10 times within 48 hours of its release, and those thin and crisp layers gain more depth and flavor with each listen. Whether it’s the distant guitar on the instrumental track “Trudi and Lou,” the infectious “Seinfeld”–esque bass on “Like Mariah,” or the R&B inspired tone of “Just Like My,” there’s something for almost everybody on “Helium.” It’s been a long two year wait for a HOMESHAKE album, but I got just what I wanted.
Songs to check out:
“Trudi and Lou”
“Just Like My”
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