If one thing is evident on the new Homeshake LP, “Fresh Air”, it’s that the man-behind-the-music, Peter Sagar, has come a long way from standing in the shadows of his friend and former employer Mac DeMarco. While I enjoyed a few tracks from this project’s last album “Midnight Snack”, it was admittedly a little lacking in focus and felt somewhat low effort. While this circle has never been know for producing works that were definitely slaved over for months, all of Mac DeMarco’s albums have been cohesive and mostly free of egregious flaws. While that was not the case on “Midnight Snack”, Sagar had definitely put in a sufficient amount of effort into “Fresh Air”. This seems to have catapulted his music to being more enjoyable and interesting than his mentor’s.
The album’s opener “Hello Welcome” is a short, jazzy, chord loop with a guitar melody over it. Already, Sagar’s ear for unique-yet-enjoyable tones is evident, as he creates an interesting tonal landscape all across the album with jazz guitar tones, hip-hop and soul synths, and mixture of live and synthesized drums. On top of all of this is Pete’s whimpering voice, which often flows into falsetto more smoothly and accurately than ever before. All of this makes for a very enjoyable open songs, with the three following-up the opener being especially stand-outish. “Call Me Up”, “Not U”, and “Every Single Thing” are all superb tracks that perfectly flow into each other, making for one smooth listening experience. In addition to the lush trip-hop sound of these tracks, Sagar throws in some interesting vocal samples and musical effects to transition between tracks. These perfectly fit the mood of the album and really set the stage for the tracks succeeding them.
Towards the middle of the album, Sagar starts to slip back into old ways. While “Wrapping Up” and “Getting Down Pt II” aren’t anything spectacular, they’re solid tracks. But starting with “Timing” he starts to slip into old ways. From this point on, many of the tracks are fairly bare or don’t really go anywhere. And while I am a fan of “TV Volume” and the Prince-like “Serious”, they don’t really go anywhere and are kind of stand out points in a small sea of obscurity. Things end interestingly with the easy listening jazz fusion-esque “This Way”. I hear this song and immediately think of one person: Pat Metheny, because it essentially sounds like a Pat Metheny song without the super out guitar solo. It’s not necessarily a bad way to end the album, but just a little bit of a lackluster end to a lackluster second half. That being said, the highlights of that half mixed with the on point-ness of the first half makes for a pretty enjoyable record, especially if you’re looking for something different.
Album Review by Ethan Lally, March 2017