HOMESHAKE Shifts Gears With Ease On 'CD Wallet' [Album Review]

Nico Corbo

The Edmonton-born and Montreal-based singer-songwriter, Pete Sagar, recently released his sixth album, 'CD Wallet.' HOMESHAKE is Pete’s solo musical project, formed after sympathetically parting ways with Mac Demarco and company about a decade ago. First and foremost, CD Wallet is a seismic shift in Pete’s artistic style - moving from mesmerizing synth and drum songs to twisted, distorted guitar tracks. While HOMESHAKE has been met with general positive acclaim, some critics complained that Pete’s laid-back sound, while enjoyable, left them wanting more artistic evolution. While I doubt that Pete makes music for the critics let alone for commercial interests, the critics' wishes have been granted. Perhaps the three-year hiatus, the longest between any of his six albums, justifies the requisite preparation to shift his style. 

Many artists settle on a style of music that their audience enjoys and continue to create similar songs because of the old adage “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it”. Yet Sagar deviated from this path dependency and embraced the sonic shift with both hands. Pete’s characteristically sulky sound remains yet his vocals are now met with an ensemble of electric and warbly guitar riffs as demonstrated in the first track, "Frayed. 'The opening track sets an ominous tone that is followed by similarly gloomy, Letting Go. Perhaps an ode to letting go of past relationships, memories, or his earlier musical style, Letting Go, is a mesmerizing track where the flute-like notes lull the listener into a trance. 

The album’s preliminary singles, the namesake "CD Wallet" and "Basement" do not disappoint. "Basement" subscribes to Pete’s customary, somewhat elusive persona as he retreats to his happy place in the basement. Sagar sings about the refuge in his basement and the comfort of being around trusted friends. "CD Wallet" returns to the somber tone and delivers one of Pete’s best vocal performances on the album. His delicate vocals that trail off and quiver juxtapose powerful guitar riffs; this song encapsulates the self-doubt that epitomizes the HOMESHAKE persona. Finally, my favorite track, "Listerine," is truly a breath of fresh air. "Listerine" is a self-proclaimed, “snail’s paced” nine-minute-long finale where Pete acknowledges his emotional turmoils and frailties. All in all, I love this album and appreciate Sagar’s willingness to take an artistic risk. Like a CD Wallet itself, this album is an item to cherish, mull over, and hold close to your heart. Unlike the CD wallet, I have an inkling that this album will stand the tests of time.

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