After exploring the darker colours of his mind in his last release, New-Delhi-based artist Kartik Pillai AKA Jamblu is back yet again with his third-ever EP Service Animal. If his previous two releases strayed away from any sort of sonic consonance relying entirely on an experimental approach, Service Animal is the polar opposite, toning down on the dissonance and focusing more on a rather “accessible’ sonic palette, a bit unusual coming from the artist. Compared to his signature dark-electronica-influenced sound, Jamblu has tried to make his latest release more in tune with the contemporary music space – that is to say that it comes off as more “discernible” to the average listener. This brings us to the question of whether the artist has given up on ingenuity in trying to appeal more to his audience or is this simply a matter of creative evolution on his part? But with the eventual turn-out of its length, the record speaks for itself on the matter.
With mellow, easy-going tunes dominating its entire course, Service Animal shows a very different side to the artist’s musical indulgences which serves to bring his modus operandi and uninhibited experimentalism under the same umbrella. If 2020’s Music to Be Nothing To really tipped you off the edge with its superficial “anti-music” persona, the new record will send you into a blissful, melancholic high with its dulcet and sombre numbers. It is tender in its delivery and vulnerable in its execution which makes it all the more comforting to the lonely ears. With “If I Could Be Born Again” he pulls the chain that accelerates the oncoming roller-coaster of emotions that is the EP, with wavy synth-oriented melody lines and smooth saxophones setting a hopeful mood.
The saxophones spill on to the next track “We Never Fight (Cause We Never Talk)”, a no-love song that is a personification of the artist’s concerning nonchalance to his apparent heartbreak. The acoustic guitars provide the perfect basis for a sad song to carry out its inherent pessimism with Anand Viankara’s almost whisper-like vocals accentuating the same.
“Surround Yourself With The People You Love (and who love you)” although is too long for a song title, incorporates a certain grit within itself that somehow makes you feel empowered. “Take Your Time” is frolicking and peppy in its soundscape – a reminder of childlike amusement and nostalgic innocence. “Get New” is self-aware in its narrative with epiphanies popping out from every corner. The artist realizes his need of prioritizing himself and his well-being before anyone else as he ends the track with firmness and self-assured confidence.
“Love Songs For Bad Friends” plays out with a tinge of regret in its voice as the artist laments his failed relationships and is finally ready to move on. He’s “over it” all and is free from the toxic attachments that bound him to the same place. He is ready to let it all go and unabashedly admits to that through free-flowing instrumentations. “I Want To Live” brings the 7-track EP to its denouement with a tired yet optimistic outlook on its sonic-scape. The same melody line keeps playing over and over again reinforcing this hope before finally slowing down from exhaustion. The musician has finally completed his journey towards self-reclamation; he is not a slave to his emotions anymore.
Service Animal is not just a representation of the artist’s growth as a musician but also his metamorphosis as a human with a psyche. He is done trying to please others and has aimed to make music and live solely according to his own terms. And that is a lesson that he has imparted to his listeners with his latest EP which stands to be a reminder of freedom, self-love, and self-expression without limitations.