Teengirl Fantasy’s Tracer sees the band move away from their more accessible beat-driven and pop-imbued sounds of their first album 7AM to a more atmospheric and wintery soundscape. Best known for their vocal house and Someone Great-aping track Cheaters, the duo of Nick Weiss and Logan Takahashi have admirably changed their approach and have offered a more ambiguous and more challenging album, which contains their own experiments into atmospheric EDM, alongside tailor-made electronic landscapes for their famous guest vocalists.
Opener Orbit sounds like a song deconstructed, each part sounding like it could fit together, but Teengirl Fantasy never let us glimpse the sum of these parts. This sets the theme for the album as one which isn’t necessarily wilfully difficult, but rather Teengirl Fantasy exploring the idea of atmosphere on an EDM album, without giving the payoffs or standard structure one might expect. This gives the album an exciting and unpredictable feel.
EXF features vocals from Kelela, and it takes the same deconstructed feel, this time feeling like a pop song broken down. The song clatters along, flutes and synths providing the backdrop for Kelela’s vocals, the unconventional structure and production of the track masking the hook laden and melodic basis of the song, giving it an exciting and visceral feel. In someone else’s hands, the same parts could be mixed together to create a song that could chart, which is not a slight on Nick and Logan, because the experimentation into the form of a pop song gives the track its unique feel.
Do It throws all the themes and musical landscape of Tracer out the window, the duo teaming up with Romanthony, the man behind Daft Punk’s perennial party-starter One More Time. The song almost sounds like a tongue in cheek version of modern pop music’s obsession with nights out and partying, with its lyrics of “I got the feeling in the club tonight”, before you realise it’s probably more of a homage to Daft Punk, who are rightly lauded for many things, but not their lyrical depth. It certainly gives the record a different hue, as it gives us a glimpse of the pop sensibilities of their first album.
Tracer feels like a record of exploration, with the darkly atmospheric instrumental tracks showing experimentation and sonic progression from the sounds of their debut, and the tracks with guest vocals seeing them creating a soundscape that fits with the vocal and sonic feel of each vocalist. As a rather short album, it impresses without feeling like a definitive statement from the group, but contains enough interesting ideas and beautiful moments, as well as a great demonstration of both experimentation and pop-sensibilities in equal measures, that it leaves one excited and intrigued about what Teengirl Fantasy might make in the future.