By Diana Powers, Contributor
Key Tracks: “Khmlwugh”, “So She”, “Call Me Up”
Mac DeMarco’s former touring guitarist, Peter Sagar, has been releasing jazzy slacker-rock under the alias Homeshake since 2013. In the past few years, Sager has made some impressively unique work. 2014’s In the Shower and 2015’s Midnight Snack situated him as an artist to watch. Fresh Air marks Sagar’s third major release as Homeshake. Dreamy and refreshing, Fresh Air shows the great extent of Sagar’s potential.
There is definitely a sense of invigoration to the album as the title, Fresh Air suggests. Fresh Air is like the gentle breeze sneaking through a cracked window. The clean production has a lot to do with this. Sagar’s past work relied pretty heavily on distorted vocals and instrumentals. Fresh Air’s production prompts a crisp, more professional sound. While rougher production worked well for Sagar, it’s refreshing to see him try new things with his music.
Sagar’s eclectic instrumentation makes his sound uniquely his. Tracks such as “Call Me Up,” “Every Little Thing” and “Serious” use synths and beats to create danceable instrumentals contrasted by Sagar’s monotone vocals. It sounds like synthy 80’s elevator music in the best way possible.
“TV Volume” showcases Sagar’s R&B influence; a downtempo beat and sensual guitar riff make for a sleepy R&B sound which Sagar pulls off very well. “Khmlwugh” also utilizes R&B influences; over an infectious synth melody and jazzy bass lines, Sagar repeats “kissing, hugging, making love waking up, getting high,” which encapsulates Homeshake’s musical aesthetic.
Even though Sagar is able to pull off a low-key sound, it makes Fresh Air a little boring. That’s not to say that it isn’t an interesting listen. Individuals tracks hold their own, but when put together it can become disengaging. The title track “Fresh Air” drags on for over six minutes and not much happens. Fresh Air could have been an incredible album if a little more life were injected into it.
Fresh Air showcases Sagar’s musical ability and potential. There are few, if any, current musicians in the slacker-rock scene that sound like Homeshake. His dreamy R&B-jazz-80’s sound is uniquely his own. Fresh Air leaves listeners wanting to see Sagar reach his full potential, and it’ll be interesting to see where he take his music next.