John Jagos, aka Brothertiger, welcomes you to the jungle – no, it’s nothing like Guns N’ Roses‘ jungle. Nor is it like watching predators hunt in the Amazon. Brothertiger’s third LP, Out of Touch, is more like floating down a lazy river without really encountering any animals or any action happening. Maybe there could be a sloth sighting along the lazy river. It’s a very relaxed synth-pop, chillwave album that is packed with water and jungle imagery, making it hard to believe that it was created in bustling Brooklyn, Jagos’ new home. It’s also hard to believe that this album wasn’t created in the 1980s, given that many of these songs would fit well into a John Hughes soundtrack or the soft rock radio station playing at your local bank branch.
A lot of synth albums sounds like they’re set in space, but Out of Touch is firmly planted on Earth, surrounded by nature. Using an actual guitar and drums provides a more organic feel than solely electronic sounds could, and there’s a slightly tribal sound to the drums on “Jungle Floor” and “Engulfed.” Some of the synth is used to make sounds like water flowing or dripping, and there are birds chirping at the beginning of “Jungle.” The lyrics of nearly every song include something about water, whether it’s waves crashing, floating in the ocean, drowning, or diving into waves. It keeps the album very cohesive, it really flows like water. Jagos’ smooth, controlled voice is another continuous presence throughout the album.
Some of the songs work better than others. The album starts strong with a very ‘80s sound; “Beyond the Infinite” is kind of reminiscent of the softest parts of Billy Idol’s “Eyes Without a Face.” The song is one of the edgiest on the album with a cracking electronic beat, but it still doesn’t have Billy Idol-level edge. “Wake,” the first single, as well as “Fall Apart” and “Out of Touch,” are also a great start to the album. They’re all upbeat and oh-so ‘80s, complete with sparkly keyboards on “Out of Touch.” Then things start to get a little more melancholy. There are lots of good qualities to “Jungle Floor” and “High Tide,” the latter being sonically sparse for greater impact, but it gets dull from there on out. “Grenada” and “Drift” just get lost and blend into the other tracks. The vocals on “Grenada” are nearly monotone. “Upon Veridian Waterways” stands out for having a lot of synth, so much that it overpowers the distorted vocals. While it presents those watery sounds mentioned earlier, when you compare it to the much more restrained “High Tide,” the simpler song is a much stronger competitor.
This is a very relaxed album and it takes a few listens to really appreciate it (it was too easy to drift into comparisons to the calming ‘80s soft rock at my doctor’s office on the first listen.) If you’re into chillwave or you’re looking for something to play during the cool down after a yoga session, this would probably fit the bill. Or even if you’re just looking for something to relax you before bed, this would likely work. Next up for Brothertiger is a cover of Tears for Fears’ entire Songs from the Big Chair album. While he can definitely handle the ‘80s sounds, it should be interesting to see how he brings the drama to songs like “Shout.”