By Emma Cohen of Indie Band Guru
Sailing in from San Diego, the music of John Helix has, I admit, perplexed me.
Helix’s new single, “Colombiana,” is neither happy nor sad. It is, instead, a perfect example of melancholy in music and it can be difficult to know how to feel about it. The track, from his upcoming LP Tune Out, Turn Off, Disconnect, due out on March 14, features gentle but assured strumming on the guitar and relaxed key changes made the song appealing to my more relaxed side.
His use of piano for additional emotion, which kicks in at around 1:15, confused me. It was at emotional odds with the guitar and his soft, crooning vocals (comparisons of which to Elliot Smith are undeniable). The piano is played hard, with something like anger, and dominates the track with its tightness.
This is the perfect song for a new beginning or for the bittersweet ending of something. Soft hints of romance dance on the guitar strings and the hurt is exposed musically throughout the track. It was difficult to decide if the song was about heartbreak or new romance but it was very pleasant to listen to.
John Helix Single Works Despite Itself
This being the second official single from John Helix, it is quite clear that his is a musical style — perplexing yet oddly soothing at its core — that he actively courts. Working his guitar like Willy Wonka worked his chocolate factory — with confidence, and the sense that he’s aware of something, a grander plan, that we aren’t apprised to — I fell under the spell.
I got the sense that, despite points where elements seemed to be contradictory and working against each other, he had every aspect of the song under his complete control. It made me feel like I’m missing someone whom I haven’t even met yet. The piano’s small but powerful appearances add to that, and made it all the more important to the overall sound.
“Colombiana” is mesmerizing, both emotionally and mentally. All of the different pieces ultimately blend together to make a peculiar but lovely song. Listening to it, it becomes easy to understand why Helix stands out so much as a musician.
The full album is available for streaming on Soundcloud.