By Sam Tornow, Editorial Director
[Planet Mu; 2017]
Key Tracks: “Crash Soft”, “Star-rise”, “Wet Eyes and Exhilaration”
The music of the night swivels into the ears of 100+ clubgoers, which they are unaware of; the cerebral beats mutate into continuous swells in their minds, peaking at irregular intervals, lacking any percussive bangs to keep them on time. In the pool of sweat, feet stomp with the seconds, ushering in 1 a.m. and cracking newly formed blisters. Despite the increasing thoughts of sleep, the conglomerate continues to move like an amoeba, only growing in size, collecting more and more bacteria. Because in the morning, the hangovers come and age shows. At 1 a.m., only fleeting youth exists.
Teengirl Fantasy’s Logan Takahashi and Nick Weiss, are all too aware of experiences like this, as both clubgoers and performers. The duo’s music touches on genres such as ambient house, and dream disco, which involves spacious layering over heavy club instrumentals that working twenty-something-year-olds wait all week for. On their fourth full-length, 8AM, the experience of pushing through exhaustion in the spirit of jejunity is explored by the band more than ever before.
Over the 12-song tracklist, the narrative space this album exists in slowly materializes. In the beginning, “Glare”, “Crash Soft” and “Telepaths” produce drawn-out swellings under pad layering. Tempo hardly matters here as the amoeba moves without concern for its surroundings, living in an area without bounds. The headache-inducing synths rarely reveal themselves and when they do, they’re buried deep in the mix. These tracks are hit-or-miss, though. “Glare” plays like someone’s first attempt at ambient, but “Crash Soft” is filled with colorful textures which make short work of the song’s nearly 4-minute runtime.
From tracks five to nine, the works seamlessly blend into one. This is by far the most impressive section of the album; it’s a sixteen-minute obliteration of feeling. Teengirl Fantasy plays with the listener’s emotions by juxtaposing deep silence with bursts of staccato synths. This formula plays out on arguably the strongest track on the album, “Star-rise”, a song filled to the brim with a mix of arpeggiated-industrial samples and bubbling undertones.
The tail end of 8AM hits an awkward speed bump with “Seeds”, which features Khalif Jones, the rapper also known as Le1f, in a missed opportunity for a genius climax. Jones’ vocals fall flat due to unoriginal lyrics and uninspiring melodies. However, the pieces are picked back up on the final two tracks, which ditch much of the ambience for bouncing bass, pushing through the metaphorical morning sunrise of the album’s thematic painting.
8AM is a promising release for Teengirl Fantasy. It makes the dreamy atmosphere the band has been exploring more accessible than ever without losing any substance in the process.