Homeshake Soundtracks an Endless Winter on 'Under the Weather'

Homeshake Soundtracks an Endless Winter on 'Under the Weather'
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Before the rest of us got real familiar with staying indoors last year, Homeshake's Peter Sagar was way ahead of the curve. Slipping into a depression in 2019, the Toronto artist spent his days perfecting the ultimate stay-home routine, binging episodes of Star Trek and turning his energies toward writing new music. The result of his efforts — complete with production assistance by Jerry Paper's Lucas Nathan — formed Under the Weather, Sagar's follow-up to 2019's Helium. The collection is honest in its advertising, comprising 12 tracks of warm, sad grooves designed to insulate the soul for the coming winter blues.

As necessitated by its inception, Under the Weather leans less into the steamy R&B hooks of his earlier works. Instead, it takes on a lonelier quality, with a slow, minimalist approach to his funky wobblers, and by cutting back on Homeshake's signature falsetto-driven sensuality. It's a sleepier record by design, and Sagar has done well by the work — despite any emotional challenges he encountered along the way. His languid, amorous crooning is layered over drowsy synths that take on a peaceful, if a bit gloomy, quality reminiscent of ConcernedApe's Stardew Valley OST — the ultimate cozy comfort.

In fact, he may have struck the perfect balance between atmospheric melancholy and dreamy de-stressor here; with most songs clocking in around the two-to-three-minute mark, each track still manages to stretch out and bend time to Sagar's will. A haze falls over the entire record, wrapping the listener in a lush fog, thick enough to lose track of the record's roughly 30-minute runtime. Further, album opener and closer "Wake Up!" and "Reboot!" form a near-seamless loop end-to-end, lending to the record's potential to soundtrack endless winter darkness, resembling the cold season's half-assed attempts at sunrise and sunset.

With a soft fist, Sagar beats back the dreariness on standout track "Feel Better," taking time to wipe away the dozy dust for the day by pouring up a cup of brightness for the morning hours. Elsewhere, the maker sprinkles in glimmers of his distinctive mark, arpeggiating the vocal hook on "Mindless" and letting a funk loose on the intro of "Vacuum," as well as the instrumental back section of "Tenterhooks." These slivers, with subtlety, remind you to open your eyes now and again, while the weary delivery of "I Know I Know I Know" carefully whisks you back under the covers.

Though Sagar didn't set out to make a pandemic record — how could he have known back then? — his foreboding clairvoyance on his fifth full-length is hard to deny. Take Under the Weather in the way it serves you best, but prepare for the album to soundtrack another season of isolation. Fellow saddies will welcome the solidarity. (Dine Alone)