It's been a little over a year since Neon Indian's first few tracks found their way onto my iPod. At the time, I did not know what chillwave was. In fact, I am not sure if the term was even coined yet. Fast forward one year and it has exploded; chillwave bands have been playing the all big summer music festivals, releasing acclaimed albums, and occasionally seeping through into the mainstream. However, these days it seems like anyone with a Macbook and GarageBand can sample
an 80s song, add reverb, post it to their Tumblr and call it chillwave. With so many amateurs and wannabes, it is good to see that some chillwave acts have gone beyond the usual formula.
One of these acts is Vancouver's Teen Daze, a fairly new contender who seems to be offering more than other chillwave artists. Buried beneath the hazy synth chords and deep drum beats is a guy who knows what he is doing. It seems that the songs off of Four More Years rely less on gimmicky production and are carried by the actual songwriting and musicianship.
These songs are full sounding and brave enough not to hide behind a lo-fi aesthetic. While chillwave vocals are notoriously lazy, Teen Daze's singing is impressive. As far as I can tell, everything is organic and there is not a lot of sampling going on -- something that's pretty rare for this type of music. There is a strange versatility to the album; at times I am not sure if I want to be lulled asleep or take a road trip along the California coast, fueled by MDMA. Songs like "Around" provide the perfect blend of New Order bass lines, Crystal Castles synth arpeggiators, and shoegaze vocals that are just the right amount of buried.
Maybe the reason Teen Daze sounds so separated from its contemporaries is because it is not chillwave at all, or at least not completely. There are definitely some influences that are not within the glo-fi realm; the breakdown in "Spin Around, Go Ahead" would sit nicely on a Daft Punk record, the echoic vocal samples throughout the album are reminiscent of Boards of Canada, not to mention the ode-to-youth lyrics are right out of M83's book.
So is Teen Daze just another chillwave act? Is it the future of chillwave? Or something else entirely?
Whether you want to call the music dream pop, shoegaze, synth pop, or chillwave, Teen Daze is surely an act to keep your eye on.