Homeshake's fourth album was made in Peter Sagar's Montreal apartment, unlike his other albums, which were recorded at a local studio. This afforded him greater creative freedom, resulting in his strangest, most detailed record yet. Far away from the lo-fi indie rock sound of his debut (although the beats on standout "Just Like My" sound like they're being blasted from the other end of the living room), this one delves further into the electronic R&B style introduced on Homeshake's 2015 album Midnight Snack. Guitars are still present, but they're gentle and textural rather than the leading instrument. Perhaps fittingly, Sagar's lyrics express a deeper degree of loneliness and isolation than before. The first line on "Anything at All" is "Everyone I know lives in my cellphone," and several other songs begin with a variation on Sagar just sitting alone at home, contemplating whether or not he should go out and do something. This leads him to fantasize about how things could be -- on "Just Like Mariah," he ponders living a glamorous life if only he could sing like his favorite pop star. The album's songs are threaded together with abstract interludes, giving the album far more of a dream-like feel than earlier Homeshake releases. Sagar points to the magical realism of Haruki Murakami as an influence, and the songs have a sort of everyday strangeness similar to the characters in the author's stories, with interludes like "Salu Says Hi" amping up the surrealist factor. While the album's highlights work on their own, Helium is best approached as a full listening experience, as it feels like a venture into a slightly different world than our own.
AllMusic Review by Paul Simpson