Vinyl LP, Compact Disc (CD), Cassette
It wasn’t surprising that In the Shower, Peter Sagar’s 2014 debut as Homeshake, released not long after he left Mac DeMarco’s touring band, favored a similar blend of loopy surf rock and smirks. What caught fans off guard was where Sagar steered Homeshake next: 2015’s Midnight Snack and 2017’s Fresh Air were much more subdued affairs, embracing elements of ‘80s synth rock and contemporary R&B. Helium, Sagar’s fourth full-length, mines those inspirations even further; self-recorded and mixed at home in Montreal, it’s Sagar’s most tender and luxurious record to date, and its insular, homemade feel only amplifies its intimacy.
Speaking to The Fader in 2017, Sagar remarked that he hoped to eventually make “an ambient relaxation tape”; whether that was his intention here or not, Helium accomplishes that goal, submerging listeners in a soothing balm of soft synths—the Roland Juno-60 in particular—and his cooing, curving falsetto. But it also offers a constant flow of gripping details that rewards repeat listens: The shimmering chimes on “Just Like My,” the manicured and bouncing bass figure in “Like Mariah,” the gauzy percussive palette of the mellow anti-technology anthem “Anything At All,” for instance, all demonstrate that Sagar can hone in on a particular ambience without sacrificing his highly-tuned musicianship. For someone who once celebrated slackerism, Homeshake shows that Peter Sagar is now painting with a fine-tipped brush, with effects that are calming as they are captivating.