Sagar’s first three records made a languid hop-skip-jump to praise as the band slowly acclimatised to a sound that strayed from the vanilla-skied salad days of the DeMarcian den. While that sleep-eyed, lilting and endlessly bored style has left its calling card, Homeshake widen their scope for their fourth record, Helium: a statement of identity.
Homeshake’s sound on Helium captures the mood of our ears. hinting at zeitgeisty bedroon pop. Yes, Mac DeMarco may sound slouched back, stoned – but Homeshake, I can assure you, are laid down with their heads in another orbit altogether. The thirteen tracks are mish-mash of sixty-second stints smattered among songs that stretch no further than the magic three minutes. The album is an ode to minimalism: it sparkles assuredly, without feeling the need for sweeping gestures to achieve great effect.
If you like your helpings of synth thick with your Homeshake, then Helium will not disappoint. With all the finesse of a starter-block Casio synthesiser, "Another Thing" is less a song and more of an experiment; an "I wonder how it will sound if I play it like this..." kind of playtime. It patters along a looping road with the crash of a drum and tinny tap of xylophone that gives an endlessly fun, copy-and-paste beat. The spontaneity is what gives it its charm.
Homeshake’s knack of building infectious tracks on simple layers of sound is at its best in "Just Like My". It opens with an automated shimmer you might hear from an old toy you forgot to take the batteries out of. The staccato clicking of fingers and Sagar’s silicon-sweet vocals are far away and unpolished, as if the track was just a dusted-off demo. It has a catchy, bluesy rhythm that is an unlikely earworm.
Far more than rolling out anti-pop delights like "Nothing Could Be Better", Helium also intends to set the scene. Beginning with "Early", and flitting to "Heartburn", "Trudi and Lou" and "Salu Says Hi", these short bursts take on a more reflective approach. Nocturnal, otherworldly and just downright surreal, Homeshake can take you much further than their bedrooms. It proves that Sagar doesn’t even need to play his vocals – easily one of his strongest suits – to elevate Helium to new heights.
We all know thirteen is supposed to be an unlucky number, but in their optimism Homeshake have made it a treat. The final track is a secret one, best listened to in the moments between being awake and asleep. Sagar’s voice settles like silk on ripples of strings. It takes the best of dream-pop without being caged within it, drawing on its sensibilities without imitation.