Review/Listen: Teen Daze – The Inner Mansions

Having released his debut album, All of Us, Together only a few months ago, Jamison, the man behind British Canadian outfit Teen Daze, is one of many artists continuing an ongoing trend this year: producing a high volume of material. From Ty Segall to Death Grips, serving up multiple albums in the same calendar year is impressive by any standard. Fortunately, this follow-up, inspired by Saint Terisa of Avila’s “El Castillo Interior”, gives a more pronounced, defined sound, allowing him to step out of the shadow cast by his contemporaries.

While the definition of the popular subgenre “chillwave” has become more and more convoluted, with nearly every Bandcamp account showcasing serene graphics and with song titles and descriptions that bring about allusions of carefree summer afternoons, it’s hard to take any of it too seriously, queuing nonbelievers to write it off as nothing more than behind on the times. It’s here that Teen Daze seems to flourish under the category, striving for a broader sound. The first single, “New Life”, is reminiscent of Washed Out: reverbed vocals, organic bass linea, and a foreboding darkness that his previous efforts lacked. Instead of relying heavily on sampled drum machine loops, he has been able to curate a more thoughtful approach, refining the disco-esque samples of his debut.

The wonder continues in “Divided Loyalites”, with its booming, explosive beat and distorted vocals, showing progress that, only a few months prior, seemed years in the future. One of the minor awkward moments, however, is the guest appearance of Frankie Rose on the track “Union”. Maintaining a hyped, playful manner throughout, it jolts its otherwise ambient companions, with more meat on its bones than the rest. It’s stark and a bit abrasive, nearly sounding like a more restrained Passion Pit song in comparison. The whole middle section is bookended by “Garden 1” and “Garden 2”, contenders for any future Kings of Convenience releases, with its vigor pacing complementing the highlight of the album: “Discipleship,” which is spliced throughout the album thematically.

At the tail end of “Garden 2”, there’s a resolve, drifting into the introspective. The mood sustains until the end where a Brian Eno cover, “Always Returning”, appears, seemingly more tongue-in-cheek than sincere. The elegance of the former track, as well as the fellow highlight, “The Heart of God”, allows Jamison to elaborate on his sound, showing more confidence than on his past works. It’s here where his last album differs. While All of Us, Together could have been seen as unpolished, Jamison’s project has since flourished in great form, displaying a tangible growth spurt that could make the him the envy of his counterparts. Leaving room for continuous maturation, the future is wide open.

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