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Far From Madding Crowd

Teen Daze's new album recoils from reality, seeking solace in life-affirming melodies and colourful synths By Chanun Poomsawai

Canadian musician Jamison Isaak has been operating under the moniker Teen Daze since 2010, the time when chillwave was still having its moment in the sun and generated a smattering of bands with nostalgia-inducing names like Washed Out, Memoryhouse, Memory Tapes, Sun Glitters and Youth Lagoon, among others. Over the course of the following few years, Isaak would continue to blissfully ride the chillwave, producing a sizeable discography consisting of five studio albums and four EPs -- each of which draws upon varying degrees of crepuscular synths, nebulous melodies and wistful lyricism.

Teen Daze's latest offering, forebodingly titled Themes for Dying Earth, arrives long after the haze of chillwave dissipated. But then again, this is not a chillwave record per se. Isaak has honed enough skills as a musician over the years to finally craft something that marks his foray into an ambient pop territory. Doing away with sun-drenched synths and beachy vibes, he opts for a more lush soundscape as a way to cope with crippling anxiety and find his own place in the world.

Cycle raises the curtain with a gentle sway of bright keyboards. "I wake with the sounds of mourning," Isaak muses, his gauzy vocals accompanied by the calming sound of running water. The song addresses the artist's struggle with anxiety and depression, and counteracts it with a slice of sonic optimism. It's a gorgeous, melodic opening track that brilliantly sets the tone for the rest of the album.

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