Written by Travis Shosa
For over a decade, Brooklyn’s John Jagos has produced and written music as Brothertiger. Yet it’s only now, 12 years after the release of his chillwave EP Vision Tunnels, that he sees fit to release an album titled for his chosen moniker. Throughout his career, the music of Brothertiger has consisted of brooding, downbeat compositions cloaked in a haze. While it doesn’t come entirely out of left-field (recent singles dating back to last year’s “Dance on the Water” and his 2017 Songs From the Big Chair covers album have hinted a shift towards 80s-style synth-pop might come), the upcoming Brothertiger, due November 4, then serves as a re-definition. Drawing influence from the likes of staple sophisti-pop artists Prefab Sprout and Scritti Politti, Brothertiger primes to enter a new era: marked by pristinely produced compositions soaked in nostalgia and garnished with a tasteful sprinkling of playful kitsch.
Coinciding with the album announcement, the new single “Be True” sounds like a lost megahit of 35 years ago. Crystalline synth melodies ripple into each other, forming dense waves of refreshing sound as Jagos advises, “Always be true / Ring true like a bell / Resonate through you / Elevate myself.” It’s a mantra that places great value on honesty, clarity, and empathy: a personal reminder to embrace these virtues. He compares himself to “an island swimming through a swell of the silence” and “a pilot steering through the sea of asylum,” admitting to a tendency to isolate. “I’ve finally built the walls around me / Completely up surrounding,” he sings, assuring he has not abandoned his brooding, introspective bent: even if filtered through echoed droplet percussion and delightfully dated funk bass. It’s ready-made to kill at your next yacht party: if you can afford one of those and are willing to risk sparking a discussion on open communication.
For more Brothertiger, you can watch the video for “Heaven,” also from the upcoming self-titled album:
Travis Shosa is the founder and editor-in-chief of Stamens/Pistils/Parties. Formerly the runner of COUNTERZINE, he has bylines at Pitchfork, The Alternative, and Post-Trash among others.