Teen Daze
Themes For Dying Earth


4.0
excellent

Review

by SowingSeason STAFF
February 7th, 2017 | 36 replies


Release Date: 2017 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Tranquility, hope, and recovery

“Pastoral ambience” is how many have referred to Teen Daze’s sound; a fusion of ethereal pop vocals with layered synths, sampled sounds, and heavily filtered acoustics. If Jamison Isaak and his surrounding project earned this reputation on 2013’s Glacier, then the latest offering is sure to cement their niche as one of the most gorgeous-sounding ambient indie-pop acts around. With tightly crafted hooks and subtle remnants of chillwave and shoegaze flowing effortlessly, Themes for Dying Earth is an album you should probably listen to while laying down in the grass; staring up at the sky with a good set of headphones to reveal every small intricacy that this stunning record has to offer.

‘Cycle’ is the ideal opener, prefacing the entire experience with distorted vocals that give way to lithe and sprightly keyboard notes – all atop the gentle trickle of a secluded mountain stream. Expressing the beauty of nature through digital and electronic means is no simple feat, but Teen Daze hit the mark on their first attempt. The body of the song – wrapped within the most memorable vocal melody – provides an impetus whose energy can still be felt pulsing well into the more ambient, indistinct offerings that follow. ‘Dream City’, for example, offers a welcome reprieve; a peaceful aura that one can truly sink into and feel completely transported. Then the minute-and-a-half ‘Becoming’ serves as this gentle nudge, a piano-laden awakening from the deep thoughts summoned by its ambient predecessor. As a three part opening act, if you will, Themes for Dying Earth immediately establishes a soothing and picturesque atmosphere.

It’s difficult to avoid critiquing Themes chronologically because it flows so naturally and effortlessly. However, the middle portion of the record is quantifiable in a different way because it features a host of guest artists ranging from Nadia Hulett to Jon Anderson, and most notably S. Carey – who worked extensively with Justin Vernon and has since emerged in his own right. The most impressive feat amidst all of these included artists is that throughout the interwoven styles and collaborations, there is nary a wrinkle to be found. Themes is distinctly and uniformly consistent, while maintaining the kind of detailed workings and dynamic shifts that keep listeners fully invested. ‘Lost’, for instance, enters the scene with prominent drums that bring forth more of a grounded, tangible sensation than the dream-like opening trifecta, and all while Hulett’s vocal contributions provide fresh melodic contrast. ‘Rising’ is as close as the record gets to becoming straight-up dream pop, channeling Beach House-like influences with waves of synth, bubbling keys, and the transcending voice of Sound of Ceres’ Karen Hover. The highlight of the entire album, however, just might be the breathtaking single ‘First Rain’, which is another masterpiece in a long line for S. Cary. In a lo-fi ode-to-nature, it samples light breezes, rustling leaves, and the pattering of rain as the backdrop to a lush medley of keyboard notes and chimes. If the beginning of the record leans towards the metaphysical, then the central portion delivers some of the most truly earthy and naturally beautiful tracks of Teen Daze’s discography.

As the album nears its end, it wraps things up with a series of understated gems that help provide Themes for Dying Earth with its enviable ebb and flow. ‘Anew’ feels foreign but warm in its approach, swaying to a tropical rhythm that paints a picture of an ocean sunset. The six minute penultimate track ‘Water In Heaven’ feels like a late album answer to ‘Dream City’, drowning itself in waves of electronic ambience just like the aforementioned track, only in a much grander, more fully-realized fashion that includes a gorgeously harmonized vocal component. The closer ‘Breath’ almost practices its namesake, with stunningly elegant synths that continuously elevate and then lower, almost as if to emulate the gentle rise and fall of one’s chest while breathing deeply in and out. It’s truly mesmerizing, and a fitting close to an album that takes turns relating to both nature and humanity.

Themes of Dying Earth isn’t nearly as grim or ominous as the title implies; it’s full of tranquility, hope, and recovery. It’s as serene and uplifting of an album as you’ll hear so far in 2017, floating atop some of the most beautifully constructed song structures you’ll hear this side of Bon Iver. It’s not really indie-pop, dream-pop, or chillwave, but rather a fusion of all three genres with some unique twists. If there were such thing as naturewave, that’d be spot on…so “pastoral ambience” actually ends up being quite an accurate summation after all. If you’re a fan of artists such as Horse Feathers, S. Carey, or Bon Iver, then this record is essentially required listening. Themes for Dying Earth is fragile, beautiful to behold, dazzling at times, and easily one of the best surprises of the year thus far.




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user ratings (44)
Chart.
3.5
great


Comments:Add a Comment 
SowingSeason
Moderator
February 7th 2017


25051 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

TL;DR: This is gorgeous as fuck, go listen to it.

henryChinaski
February 7th 2017


3884 Comments


I used to listen to Glacier quite a bit. Haven't listened to his other stuff. First Rain is beautiful. Will check this out. Nice write-up!

Digging: Kiasmos - Blurred EP

klap
Staff Reviewer
February 8th 2017


11757 Comments


need some peace and tranquility in my life after that super bowl

BrushedRed
February 8th 2017


2571 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I'm so ready for this to drop. I've always loved Teen Daze. The first two singles are really nice

SowingSeason
Moderator
February 8th 2017


25051 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

@sixdegrees: If you have dream pop on your pie chart I'd expect you to at least find some enjoyment out of this

SowingSeason
Moderator
February 8th 2017


25051 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

it's OK. if you hate BI and S. Carey this won't do much for you.

silentstar
February 9th 2017


2501 Comments


cycle is so beautiful omg

album is not on spotify yet

BlushfulHippocrene
February 9th 2017


2019 Comments


You make this sound so beautiful, plus there's an S. Carey feature. Will have to check. If it's anything like Range of Light, I'll like this.

SowingSeason
Moderator
February 9th 2017


25051 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

@silentstar - check the weekly news blog post, there's a stream for the album

Pangea
February 9th 2017


2712 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

excellent review. i'll probably like this

budgie
February 9th 2017


3652 Comments


cool new teen daze, cheers

3waycrash
February 9th 2017


190 Comments


Gave First Rain a listen, and I'm sold on that. Going to have to check this out. It does seem like one of those "you have to be in the right mood" type of albums though so we'll see about that.

BrushedRed
February 9th 2017


2571 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Guess I'm always in the mood for Teen Daze. His albums are better than ratings suggest. Finally listening to this now.

henryChinaski
February 10th 2017


3884 Comments


Cool it's on Spotify. Listening now!

BrushedRed
February 10th 2017


2571 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

This... was underwhelming. "Cycle" and "First Rain" are some of his best material to date, but it seems he knew which two to make singles because the rest of it didn't match up. I'll see if it grows, but this is his worst album, imo, as of now.

SowingSeason
Moderator
February 10th 2017


25051 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Agreed that those two songs are strongest but I still think the more ambient tracks are done perfectly. That's why the more melodic single type tracks have such an impact. All in my humble opinion of course.

SowingSeason
Moderator
February 10th 2017


25051 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Also not sure if it's a bonus track or what, but 'River Walk' totally wasn't included in the stream I used to help write this review but it is part of my itunes DL. Also, as expected, it's beautiful.

zaruyache
February 10th 2017


17950 Comments


" ambient indie-pop "

drools

BrushedRed
February 10th 2017


2571 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

River Walk is on my album. Of course I use Apple Music as opposed to Spotify. I'm gonna give this another go tonight and try to use headphones this time.

ReadyForTheHouse
February 10th 2017


79 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Sounds good on first listen, I like the artwork too. Great review.



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