With intuitive powers of clarity and concision to the fore, Ari Roar's Calm Down is an album that draws on '60s pop and modern DIY heroes for a set of lovingly languid, lo-fi miniatures. Depths of detail and lived experience bustle beneath effortlessly melodic surfaces; sure signs of a writer in confident command of his pitch. With a tight run-time of 28 minutes and few of its 15 songs breaching the two-minute mark, Calm Down is not an album that overstates its case.
"Called In" merges the influences of garage-pop and Grandaddy in its plaintive plea to "stay alert," while the brightly summery "Windowsill" and literal shaggy-dog tale "Lost and Found" show an easy lightness of narrative touch and mood control. Elsewhere, Ari makes weightless work of variously playful, psychedelic material, navigating his songs with expressive ease even when he's documenting difficulties navigating high-school hallways on "Don't Have a Fit." "Off and On" is luminous, "Implode" sweetly chugging. "Sock Drawer" recounts an inner voyage with a gently psychedelic touch, before the playful strut of "Choke" and buoyant release of "Lucky One" offer precision-judged notes of climactic uplift.
Ari and producer Hunter Davidsohn found common ground in a telling mix of classic and modern influences. The duo bonded over a shared affection for The Beatles and The Zombies, influences channeled beautifully into Calm Down's cool moods and warm melodies. More recent influences include Deerhunter, Beach House and the Frankie Cosmos album Next Thing, which Davidsohn produced to perfection.