Illinois artist Jack Larsen confronts discomfort face first. Play a video of his at random and chances are you’ll catch his body multiplied, manipulated, or compressed—cheeks sliding against glass, legs bouncing on loop like an endless glitch. Growing up is pretty weird. By bottling it all up in euphoric psych-pop, Larsen has found impassioned support early, be it via Chicago college kids or fellow artists like Roy Blair.
If you’re new to his music, “Spirit” might help explain the excitement. Jack’s latest release (the first glimpse at his first full-length, Mildew) taps into the soundtrack of teenage wasteland to make a real hair-raiser. In other words, there are good goosebumps and there are bad goosebumps and sometimes, like in the “Spirit” video, there are both.
Clouds roll over American splendor, sun shining down on gorgeous canyons, while Jack sprints across a dirt path as if his life depends on it. And that’s him in a nutshell: at once on cloud nine and fighting to be here. “It’s my life,” he sings over and over again on an older track “Angels.” For anyone who’s ever occupied this gray area, aware of the thin line between joy and something much worse, give this guy a shot.
“Mildew is a self-reflective, psychedelic pop album," he tells us. "I set out to make it sound as cinematic and immersive as possible—hoping to uniquely tell my story as a broken artist paralyzed by the fear of growing through my music and personal life. For me, 'Spirit' sets the tone as the album’s opener and helps guide the record in the experimental direction that I sought to create.”
Mildew is planned for an October release.