With Mac Demarco seemingly well on his way in an unassuming bid for world domination, it would come as a surprise that one of his closest affiliates opted to step out of the slacker demi god’s shadow, leave the crazed hordes of fans behind and go it alone. Even with the unfathomable price some would pay to regularly be in the presence of Demarco’s charisma, upon listening to his records, it’s quite easy to grasp why Peter Sagar aka Homeshake made the risqué decision to quit the Demarco dynasty nearly four years ago. Not only an escape from a heavy touring schedule, Homeshake offered Sagar a chance to wriggle free from the maturity that was seeping its way into Mac Demarco’s music, and well and truly indulge in the quirkiness that provided Rock and Roll Nightclub with its inimitable atmosphere.
As a base for his new project, the melting pot for hazy, lo-fi indie that was Montreal circa 2013 opened its arms to the delectable guitar twang and idiosyncratic lyrics of Homeshake, labeling it as one of the emergent scene’s prize exports alongside that of Alex Calder and his former band leader. Since the moniker first surfaced, Montreal has breathed life into four Homeshake records, with the most recent coming in the form of Fresh Air; Sagar’s best attempt to date at making a serious record whilst trying at all costs to not be serious at all.
Moving away from the cartoon samples and charming guitar licks generously topped with reverb, the self-confessed RnB lover has conveyed his musical passion on more recent records, offering up a rather bizarre blend of indie darling meets MTV Base in the process (‘Give It To Me’ from previous LP Midnight Snack marking the evolution with grandeur).
On Fresh Air, Homeshake is once again at his combustible best, effortlessly achieving an equilibrium between slacker and heartfelt crooner when dabbling in abstract slow jams. When the record burns, it burns bright; it’s what happens in between the magnesium like bursts of energy that leave the album wanting in terms of structural foundation and direction. But in turn, that may just be the signature of Sagar’s work; never rooted into one spot and the free to explore the imaginary realms his music has created, and since immersed itself in.
Album opener, the aptly titled ‘Hello Welcome’ initiates the record in a familiar fashion, igniting a sense of hope for fans longing to hear Sagar call upon the sounds that littered his first EP Homeshake Tape. Its creamy guitar lick sizzles and upon contact with the heavily produced bass line beneath, however, the sense of intriguing ambiguity soon vacates with the arrival of ‘Call Me Up’ and ‘Not U’ shortly after. The odd ball tracks border on parody rather than genuine attempts to recreate the urgency and unadulterated suggestibility associated with Homeshake’s music.
Cue ‘Every Single Thing’, arriving in the nick of time to restore a sense of consciousness: “are you even paying attention to me right now” sounding out as the track begins. Opening with shimmering UFO sounds akin to a low-budget sci-fi film, the track catapults into the cosmos aboard a squelching beat before bringing home an infectious groove that disperses over the rest of the album. The standout moments of Fresh Air that follow come in the form of ‘Getting Down Pt II’, ‘TV Volume’ and ‘Khmlwugh’ – albeit the latter continuing a minute longer than necessary. All three tracks tilt a tried and tested RnB format slightly off kilter to fabulous effect, turning the absurd into quite frankly arousing.
Spying an opportunity to solidify his music in its own light, the move to focus on more RnB influences presents itself as a tempting path; one where the balance between creativity and claptrap is all that more delicate. Luckily Homeshake toes the line on Fresh Air, pulling out the stops when they’re most needed, just as the album starts to drift off without any real cause to follow.
At risk of feeling constrained by the loveable guitar licks birthed during his time with Mac Demarco, Peter Sagar’s desire to progress forward into the world of RnB with no pretext or focus is what grants his music with its honest texture. Instead of placing Fresh Air under the microscope, the album leaves its hazy aesthetic open to interpretation, and with that calls for being looked upon through a similarly out of focus lens.