I saw Pete Sagar and the Homeshake boys in Montreal, Canada back in December. This was the city that he and ex-bandmate Mac DeMarco first made names for themselves, and it felt as if Pete was playing in the comfort of his back garden. As he walked on to welcoming applause from his bilingual, hipster minions, he smiled and said, “oh, Montreal.” Everyone in the crowd looked like they might know him, they probably drink at the same bars. I felt as if I’d intruded on a passionate moment as a Brit amongst the Quebecois audience (although one girl called me Australian in the gender neutral toilets).
That night Pete sampled Call Me Up, the electric first single on his forthcoming album. Everyone already knew the words, and the song’s lead line persists in the mind until you’ll be chanting, “anytime you wanna just call me up, and I’ll answer you, on the phone” on the third listen. He also played the single KHMLWUGH which is an abbreviation for kissing, hugging, making, love, waking, up, getting, high. The song’s electronic drums are more Drake than DeMarco, the falling synths are so sensual you’ll probably get tears on your Carhartt beanie. And the third single from the album Every Single Thing is just a slacker R&B anthem. It starts as a voice says, “Are you even paying attention to me right now?” Pete is worried he’s staying inside too much – and wants to know, “What do I do instead?” It’s a song about boredom, and not really knowing the difference between human interaction and getting high to look at memes.
TV Volume brings guitars back into the mix of this synth-led album, there’s a choral backing line, and it just couldn’t get any dreamier. You can’t help but love how Pete documents how he does absolutely nothing, “move a bit […] almost see her look at me.” I mean, at least in Mac DeMarco’s Ode To Viceroy he actually goes to the shop to buy Viceroy Cigarettes. He got some fresh air. Despite the title of Pete’s album, I can’t really imagine him ever leaving his flat, and that makes his music so personal it’s like I’m just sitting on the settee with him holding out an ash tray.
There’s a couple of fast songs later on, it’s quite disconcerting, they almost make you want to dance instead of all the swaying you’ve done for the last 25 minutes. Serious is so funky, but I’m pretty sure it’s just about someone who would rather buy pills than pay their rent. And So She is one of the catchiest songs on the album, the jazz chords dominate the song, and Pete delivers one of his best vocal performances. But then Pete drops it back down for his closer, This Way, and the result is just stunning. For me, it’s the best Homeshake song ever, and I’m a super fan so that’s saying something. He’s singing about real life and real emotions, things you notice and remember like sipping Camomile. Pete even jokes about how claustrophobic his music is: “Found the switch to get a little light / So bright I could get a tan.” No one goes outside this entire album, and Pete is starting to find it difficult to live in the confines of his four walls.
Homeshake’s last album Midnight Snack was sexier, a lot sexier, it was an album about the process of seducing someone, sleeping with them, and then eating a snack afterwards. Fresh Air is far more melancholy, listening to Pete pour his heart out will make you feel as intrusive as I did amongst those Quebecois hipsters in December. The mix of R&B, slacker rock, and pop on this album feels as fresh as the title suggests. And Pete’s finally moving out of the shadow of his old buddy Mac.