Review: Is Homeshake’s ‘Fresh Air’ actually fresh or simply a rehash?


Photos by Hudson McNeese / Contributing Photographer

Story by Megan Loveless / Contributing Writer

Homeshake released his third studio album, “Fresh Air,” last Friday with more mellow, bass-driven R&B vibes than ever.

Peter Sagar is the mastermind behind the project. He writes and sings the bulk of the material, and friends Greg Napier, Mark Goetz and Brad Loughead make occasional contributions. As the former guitarist for indie rock prince Mac Demarco, Sagar’s music is often overshadowed. However, his mix of slacker indie pop, soul and R&B should speak for itself. He experiments with voice effects and samples of vibrating phones or short excerpts of dialogue, and he composes sensual ballads with infectious, electronic drumbeats. The album almost feels as if it could be turned into a rap or hip-hop album at times with certain backing beats found in tracks like “Not U.” “Fresh Air” wraps up jangly guitar, sensual beats and relaxed lyrics. Sagar is a genius writer that knows how to make an easygoing, yet catchy hit.

HOMESHAKE performs at The Cobra in Nashville on Dec. 5, 2016. (Sidelines / Hudson McNeese)

The first thing I thought when I heard the introductory song “Hello Welcome” was, “This album is going to put me at ease.” The soulful and smooth guitar riffs set the mood for the whole project, and the song ends with a robotic voice that welcomes the listener to the album.

“Every Single Thing” is the second single for the album. It’s an indie pop groove that kicks off with a typical Homeshake feel, including comical dialogue. However, it doesn’t feel like new ground for Sagar’s writing. After several listens, most of the songs just sounded too similar.

Funky bass and jangly guitar caught my attention on “Getting Down Pt II (He’s Cooling Down).” This track is the sequel to the song “He’s Heating Up” from the previous album “Midnight Snack.” After comparing the two albums, I concluded that a few of the songs from the new album just sound like sequels to older Homeshake songs. It’s as if I had heard most of the beats before. In contrast, “Fresh Air” does seem like it has more howling, dark moments than “Midnight Snack.”

Although the album boasts some repetitive and recycled tracks, there are a few that stood out. The most recognizable hit from the record would be “Khmlwugh,” which was released as a single. The melodic, bass-driven song contains catchy melodies and memorable lyrics like:

Kissing, hugging, making love,

Waking up and getting high

“Fresh Air” is the loosest song on the album, complete with the sounds of wind in the background and slacker lyrics. The song is rightfully the eponymous track, as it is the epitome of the record. Sagar makes this song feel effortless.

Sagar and longtime friend and touring drummer Greg Napier pose at The Cobra in Nashville on Dec. 5, 2016. (Sidelines / Hudson McNeese)

Homeshake’s style is nostalgic of 80s pop at times, especially with the song “Serious.” The track sounds like Sagar stole a synth-filled hit straight out of 1985 and reimagined it. The bass sounds like something from a “Miami Vice” soundtrack. The goofy whistle synths and electronic drums paired with lyrics like, “he’s serious about the way he feels, so he’s gonna take a few of those pills,” make it a moody jam.

Although the album makes one feel like some older ground is still being covered, the album feels more R&B than anything Sagar has ever done. I appreciate the way Homeshake can incorporate ambient noise, dialogue, and even a bit of humor to his music. His voice is not necessarily the best you’ll hear, but that’s not the focal point of his music. Funky synth, driving basslines and memorable beats are what really make the listener feel something special. He continues to do what he does best in this album: bringing back 80s pop and sensual R&B, but with a modern indie pop flavor that makes it fresh and interesting.

To contact Lifestyles Editor Marissa Gaston email lifestyles@mtsusidelines.com.

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