The opening cut on Jay Arner’s appropriately self-titled album may say a lot about the Vancouver musician. The dark sounding synth melodies on Midnight on South Granville paint a bleak picture as Arner sings “I feel so out of place/walking around half drunk.” The musician has been around the music scene for a while (producing the likes of Mount Eerie) but with his debut solo album, that he alone played, recorded and produced, maybe he has found his place.
Don’t Remind Me is a standout with Arner busting out a hooky chorus where he shouts the song title. He proves he is rarely satisfied with one sound and on Sacrifice, at about the midway point, he provides a welcomed synth-infused breakdown. Other vibes come with the surf-pop sounding Wildest One. Yet with the analogue keyboards and dark-edged pop over-riding most of the set you sense Bowie’s Low and Lodger are touching points for Arner- check the excellent Broken Glass for instance.
The cover art is a picture of Arner’s face and, although simple, it may be the best way to sum up the record. He’s been producing other people’s work for a while now – but now he stands alone. 30 minutes and ten tracks built with cynical lyricism, retro synths and running guitars – this debut finds a man questioning everything about himself – exposing some of the nooks of what he calls his “cavernous, but claustrophobic” head. A fine introduction.