Ari Roar – moniker of Texan singer-songwriter Caleb Campbell– will release his debut album, Calm Down on 25 May via Bella Union. Today Ari reveals the album’s title track and lead single, wherein he explores the push-pull of anxiety through an agitated rhythm and dreamy vocals.
Speaking about his new single, Calm Down, Ari says: ‘I wrote this on a sunny day in a Seattle basement. I had been walking through this hilly neighbourhood and the inclines we’re leaving me winded. I made my way down to the lake and remember the water being freezing even though it was a warm day. I couldn’t believe that people were swimming. I was back and forth between writing songs and going to this local post office to have pictures of astronauts printed out.’
With intuitive powers of clarity and concision to the fore, Calm Down is an album that draws on 1960s 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.
For Ari, Calm Down is a milestone in a journey that began in Dallas, Texas, where he started songwriting on his family’s ‘super-old, out-of-tune piano’ as a child. Early inspirations included Grandaddy’s Under the Western Freeway and Radiohead’s OK Computer; his first concert experience was The Doobie Brothers, with his parents. But it was a gorgeous solo performance by Jason Schwartzman in the teen comedy Slackers that inspired Ari to start writing songs with lyrics at 14: ‘I remember being mesmerised by it… and I went into my room and started trying to write something similar. After that I just never stopped.’