The Search for God is a wake-up call for a troubled world that’s still worth saving, animated by a belief in the power of small connections to add up to big changes. At 10 songs delivered in a brief 15 minutes, Jimmy Whispers’ long-awaited sophomore album feels present in a way that feels brand new for the cult auteur. Like many of us, Jimmy has been affected by the pressure of the past few years. After embracing sobriety, and now as a filmmaker sharing the stories of lesser known Los Angeles community members, he’s brought his dreaming down to earth, while turning its direction even further out.
Recorded with his longtime friend Ziyad Asrar of the band Whitney (and re-recorded after a hard drive incident destroyed the original files), The Search for God was created in the wake of Jimmy’s COVID isolation, and returns to some teen influences that are out of step with the chill/lo-fi LA indie rock scene he’s found himself lumped in with. Created mostly with two vintage synths, a single Roland CR5000 drum machine, and a busted karaoke machine, it channels Midwestern emo, the Beach Boys’ Smile, subtle nods at hyper-pop production, and forgotten jewel-box era college radio of the early aughts into a pure pop sound that transcends easy categorization.
The album’s standout single—and its statement of purpose—is “Hellscape,” which packs more into a minute and 40 seconds than you’d think possible: multiple immediately-unforgettable hooks, kaleidoscopic keyboards, and a bracing reminder that even the most transcendent moments are rooted in a world full of suffering. “This is a fucking hellscape,” Jimmy sings. “This is real life / this is happening.”
That may sound like punk nihilism, but The Search for God is anything but. Every lyrical acknowledgment of how fucked things are right now comes with a promise that we can still make positive changes. Jimmy calls it “God”; you might call it Love or Peace or A Place In the Universe That Makes Some Kind of Sense.
Will The Search for God deliver whatever that is to you? Of course not. At its heart, it’s still just a really good pop album. But maybe that’s enough. For a minute or two at a time, Jimmy’s music cracks open a space where the divine can enter our lives. The utopia we’ve all been dreaming of is already here if we’re just willing to build it. Jimmy Whispers is there, ready to add his voice, whenever we want to reach out.