The cover of Jai Wolf’s The Cure to Loneliness speaks volumes about how the album presents sonically. Sajeeb Saha’s visage dissolves into a pool of floating colors, a new formation arising from the structures of the past. Much like the artwork, Saha’s debut album constructs itself using musical foundations that precede it. Sweeping, drawn out electronic elements coupled with a focused beat draw from the EDM trends of the early 2010s, your Porter Robinsons and Zedds. To soften the womps and drums, Saha couples it with synthpop sensibilities: clever, indie pop vocals and bright, 1980s-style synthesizers. This results are perfectly fine but ultimately forgettable music. The contents all are excellently performed, but the resulting mix fails to produce much in terms of a reaction from the listener.
For one thing, the album feels exceedingly lonely despite its claim to fix it. Perhaps it purports to filling the gap left behind by a past friend or partner, whom one can drown out using towering guitars and cheeky lyricisms. On “Still Sleeping”, Saha and Georgia Ku assert some level of unruffled independence with “When you’re bored of me / I’ll take myself home.” Yet to follow a cool as hell chorus with “I get addicted to the way you make my heart hurt” lessens Ku’s effectiveness. As a whole, the track provides an enjoyable slice of dance pop, but like other tracks on The Cure to Loneliness (“Better Apart”, “Around the World”) it doesn’t exactly bring much to the table either, musically or to the album’s themes. If Saha considered naming the project Dealing with Loneliness, the tracks would be better suited.
Other missed opportunities arise as you go further into the album. “Half-Hearted Interlude” lives up to its title and warrants at least another minute to grow into something exciting. Meanwhile, the Robokid-assisted “Drowning” does develop with some promise, Robokid’s layered voices echoing alongside a simple guitar line. Then, at the minute mark, the drop happens and the synths that land on the downbeat pound away the track’s otherwise fragile beauty. Furthermore, his collaboration with Chelsea Jade, the Imogen Heap-sounding “Lost”, is conspicuously absent. It deserves a spot here before a track like “Around the World”.
Where The Cure to Loneliness scores well is in its lyrics. Though they may not solve loneliness, they convey it quite well. “I miss my bed and lying in it,” Mr Gabriel drones on “Lose My Mind”, a moment nostalgic not just for its meaning but also what it sounds like. Ten years ago, this would have sounded right at home alongside songs by Phoenix, Chromeo, and Atlas Genius. Today, it gets me moving without quite inspiring anything. With “Your Way”, Saha comes closer to what he should have done with “Drowning”, leave out a drop, and gives listeners a fantastic late-album track.
Technically, Saha gets plenty right on his debut. Musically, The Cure to Loneliness plays pleasantly in the background, but better, more memorable instances of this sound exists elsewhere.