In Review: Jai Wolf’s “Kindred Spirits”
In the last half decade, as contemporary electronic artists have gained major footholds in popular music, so too has the genre given home to an influx of saturated acts. So many sound like the stars — like Skrillex, like Zedd, like Flume — that at times it’s hard to wade through the mush.
Jai Wolf, the indie-electronica project of Sajeeb Saha, is something different, though it’s difficult to pinpoint how. His new EP, “Kindred Spirits” (out Nov. 18 on Mom + Pop), is a mighty strong release, and could see him pull some mainstream attention.
Saha was born in Bangladesh and moved around with his family several times before settling in New York. He started playing violin at 5 and as a high schooler performed with the New York All-State Orchestra. He then parted ways with classical music in favor of releasing mashups under the name No Pets Allowed, under which he released music for several years while in college. That project earned him some internet attention, but gave way to Jai Wolf in 2014.
Soon after, Saha messaged a remix of “Ease My Mind” to Skrillex (aka Sonny John Moore) on a whim. The dubstep giant wound up signing it to his label OWSLA, directing a significant amount of at- tention Saha’s way. Then came the 2015 release of Jai Wolf’s debut single, “Indian Summer,” which has been played on Spotify more than 20 million times since. It’s the second song on “Kindred Spirits,” the first full composition of note (track one, “This Space In My Heart Is For You,” is basically just an intro), and rightfully so.
Here’s the thing: “Indian Summer” is not the best song on the EP. That distinction has to go to “Like It’s Over,” which Saha released as a single at the end of last month. It’s terribly catchy, with the bubble gum voice of producer and singer MNDR thrust to the spotlight, not to mention rhythmic flourishes somehow akin to the 1980s synth vibe on “Nightcall,” the 2010 hit by French electronica artist Kavinsky. “Like It’s Over,” however, is far less dark and more clearly nostalgia- driven.
Saha makes it obvious on the EP that he’s most concerned with the problems tied to human connection. By most genre standards, his songs are downtempo, something like end-of-theworld love ballads. The second half of “Kindred Spirits” is nearly perfect in this regard.
After opening with the chiefly introspective ( though not inaccessible) “This Space In My Heart Is For You” and “Indian Summer,” Saha finds balance with songs that externalize feelings more translucently. Much credit should be given to strong features for this. “The World Is Ours,” which is something of a sonic cousin to “Indian Summer,” feels less thematically shrouded due to its sandwiching between “Like It’s Over” and “Drive,” the latter of which features indietronica act Chain Gang of 1974. There’s shape to “Kindred Spirits,” which is an accomplishment for any EP.
Beyond that, it’s quick, and easy to listen to, and it bodes well for the future of Jai Wolf. Verdict: 4 out of 5