Homeshake's Fourth Album Is a Chill Exploration of Lead Man Peter Sagar's Inner Musings
Helium, Homeshake's fourth album is a further exploration of Peter Sagar's inner musings, and it may be his most honest record, as it sounds lonelier and smaller than any Homeshake LP to date.
22 February 2019
Homeshake is Peter Sagar, and Peter Sagar likes to stay at home. This characteristic defines the musician and his music more than one would think. It's probable that it's where the title of the project comes from. Either way, he's an insular figure, and he's ok with it. Home is where his mind is. Helium, Homeshake's fourth full-length is a further exploration of Sagar's inner musings, and it may be his most honest album, as it sounds lonelier and smaller than any Homeshake album to date.
Sagar's story is one of chance and change. He met the now illustrious Mac DeMarco in high school and began making music with him, culminating with Sagar being DeMarco's touring guitarist during DeMarco's critical zenith. That brought on a rigorous tour schedule and a ton of emotional labor. Sagar hated it, and he didn't want to be a buzzkill, so he decided to decamp and head home. Eventually, his solo music as Homeshake popped off, so now he can choose when he wants to play out. It's the dream of the homebody musician.
Sagar has said he wants his music to be relaxing, and if that is to be the guideline, then Helium is his most successful album to date. The project's debut album, In the Shower, was slow and wiry and a little uneven, often sounding like a little too much like DeMarco. The sophomore effort, Midnight Snack, was wild and fun and exploratory. 2017's Fresh Air was a critical favorite that found Sagar peaking in production and melodic execution. Furthermore, all of these are quite busy compared to Helium. Have you ever heard New Age icon Steven Halpern's Spectrum Suite? If you want to save the time of listening to it, here's a quick description: it's keyboard music that purposely fades into the background. It's slow and meandering and, most importantly, it's meant to be relaxing. Multiple tracks on Helium hedge close to that sound.
Opener "Early" sets the tone right off with the album's signature sound, a shaky electronic keyboard. From there on, it's a mix of similar instrumentals and light R&B-inspired jams with soft-spoken vocals. Lyrically, it's all of the interior mind. "Like Mariah" finds Sagar exploring the glories of fortune and fame before finally admitting that he's "not so sure I could even cope." "Nothing Could Be Better", an obvious highlight of the album, finds Sagar finally heading outside the house. He's tired of being social, but he ends up enjoying himself because of a special someone. Overall, it's an album about the dilemma of wanting to be social but hating being social.
There are 13 tracks here. Four of them are instrumental, and one is a voice experiment called "Salu Says Hi". It's a mishmash of modulated voices saying, "hi" in a multitude of pitches. It also comes on the back end of the album. It's funny because it acts much like Netflix's "are you still watching?" prompt. It's a wake-up call. It's like Sagar knew the album was a little too chill and wanted a polite way to wake us up. Helium is known for two things, and one is its lightweight sound. Homeshake makes music the way he wants, and that's admirable, but hopefully, it doesn't get any lighter than this.