Bangladeshi electronica musician Sajeeb Saha has steadily moved past the Skrillex remix that gave his Jai Wolf alias his big break in 2014. Single “Indian Summer” and following EP, Kindred Spirits, foreshadowed an expansion past the EDM format, backing up massive drops with more songwriting chops. Saha’s push to establish his own musical identity reaches new ground on debut LP The Cure To Loneliness. It’s essentially a dream-pop album for the Coachella crowd—giving glow-stick-wielding ravers more to chew on.
From the simple guitar strokes and four-on-the-floor beat of “Lose My Mind,” it’s clear that Saha isn’t just out to make festival bangers. Mr Gabriel’s warm vocal performance coincides with the song’s lo-fi qualities, but the song’s nuanced synth embellishments hints at a sense of size. The arrangement of “Still Sleeping” achieves a similar presence, balancing Toto-esque melodies even a glam rock-style guitar solo with Georgia Ku’s contemporary, alluring voice. Lyrics about falling in love and desiring companionship won’t exactly boggle many minds, but Jai Wolf continues to highlight his growth as a musician.
“This Song Reminds Me Of You” and “Better Apart” are the most obvious forays into straight EDM, but Saha incorporates convincing indie rock structure into what could have passed as a crowd-pleasing DJ set. The former bursts into a classic bass stomp, and the latter into hard-hitting half-time, but the importance of vocal melody and dynamics serve a greater purpose than killing time until the beat drop.
The instrumental “Telepathy” exemplifies this stylistic cross section the most, beginning like The Edge on a mid-tempo U2 number. Jai Wolf’s massive, arena-filling synths and vocal samples expand the atmosphere rather than dominate it—a hard left turn from the tropes of most of his EDM contemporaries. Similarly, “Manic Pixie Dream” creates a post-punk vibe with its dreary guitars and droning keyboards. But the punchy drums and unabashed dynamic shifts will appease those who just want something they can dance to.
While it brings new facets to Saha’s musicality, The Cure to Loneliness is still an album to vibe to. The oceanic textures and moving melodies of “It All Started With A Feeling” crash like waves when turned up to 11, yet trickle gracefully when played in the background without forsaking its emotional impact. In this way, Saha has transcended the limitations of modern rave music, creating a multilayered, multi-purposed experience. The lyrical themes also follow this balance of personality and palatability. It’s easy to relate to and empathize with Robokid’s verses on “Drowning,” but the narrative of desperation for genuine love fits snuggly into the song’s exhilarating vamp of transient synth-wave.
The cinematic closer “Around The World” brings the significance of The Cure to Loneliness into focus. Forgoing the seismic beats on much of the album, it achieves overwhelming volume in its sweeping crescendo and meticulous layering, yet soothes with its delicate outro. Jai Wolf’s debut embodies the hallmarks of his EDM foundation while pushing far beyond what anyone could have expected from him as an arranger. It paves a way for him to be remembered as an indie pop heartthrob as well as a dance music party-starter.