Tune Out, Turn Off, Disconnect is John Helix’s follow-up to last year’s album, Chronic Happiness, and is set to be released at the beginning of March. Regarding the title of his latest endeavour, Helix shared how “I feel my message is a nice antidote to the prevalent ‘buy this and click this’ mentality, which to me is the opposite of searching for real meaning.” This adult contemporary album is filled with melancholic pop songs that sound quite similar in many ways to one another, but with enough differences to keep listeners’ attention.
The sparse, mid-tempo “Roman Tic” opens up the album; featuring only vocals and an acoustic guitar until the one-third mark—when an electric guitar starts contributing intermittent strumming until the end of the track—it really reflects the singer-songwriter’s self-proclaimed “Weltschmerz”-inspired style (romantic sadness). Perhaps a little too melancholic for Top 40 pop music, it would fit well on an adult contemporary radio station’s playlist. The increase in tempo in the piano-led “You Think You Know” is only a little sparse as its predecessor, giving auditory space to the listener to appreciate the lyrics. The vocals, still manipulated to be echoing, cannot yet be fully appreciated.
Simmering down with “Old World Spirits”, Helix’s vocals finally come through without digital manipulation in this piano-led track that starts sparse and builds up slowly, one extra instrument at a time. We travel down another notch to the mid-tempo “Complicated Terms” where an electric keyboard takes the lead and the vocals take on an extra level of digital manipulation to be not only slightly echoing but also seemingly coming through a thick cardboard cone.
The title track is a mid-tempo, upbeat, acoustic guitar-led track, and “When Tomorrow Comes” comes as a bit of a (pleasant) surprise, what with its electric guitar, mid-tempo beat and cheeriest melody to date. The closing track, “Something Tells Me”, makes one wish that Helix’s vocals were less digitally manipulated than they have been throughout; he doesn’t need it, and his clear falsetto would have fit much better than the echo that was chosen for this and so many other numbers.
A well thought-out and executed album, Tune Out, Turn Off, Disconnect remains quite melancholic throughout, the perfect soundtrack if you are moody or want to reflect on the darker side of things. More information about John Helix can be found on his official website and on his Facebook page.
Pictures provided by Working Brilliantly.