If, like me, you have a brain that stores away trivial information such as End of Year Charts then you might be think ‘Teengirl Fantasy? Weren’t they big on Pitchfork one year?’ And you’d be right – their single “Cheaters” was voted by the critics as the 24th best song of 2010 on that very site. What with appearing on the same page as the likes of James Blake (in with a bang at no. 29 for “CMYK”) and Four Tet’s “Angel Echoes” (number 27), and having the sort of name that sticks in the brain, for good or ill, it was the sort of useless data that was stored away for later. Although, it seemed the ‘later’ never arrived, with Teengirl Fantasy failing to make any greater impact than this single.
Certainly if you were to name an electronic duo who had worked with Panda Bear and Romanthony I would guess that TGF would be your second choice behind the French maestros Daft Punk, probably even after reading that introductory paragraph. Those appearances were on their second album Tracer which came out on R&S Records five years ago. It’s not unreasonable to suggest they see that album as a misstep, because their third album is designed – and titled – as a sequel to their debut, 7am.
This new release, 8am, arrives on Mike Paradinas’s label Planet Mu and the loose concept behind it is to capture the state of your brain at that hour of the morning if you’ve been out all night. It’s been a while since I approached that time of the morning having been up all night – I haven’t exactly hung up my raving trousers but the opportunities for an all-nighter where I live are rare – and the same is true of my peers. When you hit a certain age, the only times you’ll be greeting the sunrise after a sleepless night is if you have an unwell infant, which may the theme for a Teengirl Fantasy album in a few years’ time. For now though, we’ve got the soundtrack for those still going out and coming back home again.
They certainly ease in the more fragile listener with the glowing chimes of an ambient intro, before the beat kicks in about a minute or so into the second track, “Crash Soft”. This is virtually full-on rave music, and it doesn’t really fit in the concept of the album although it does work on its own terms. Perhaps it is for the daytime raver – I kept thinking of a scene from the TV show Spaced at this point. The following track calms things down a bit – more space, and more of a dubby feel, and then for the next few tracks, the music gradually slows down to an ambient stop. Things pick up again on the centre point of the album “All Of The Time” which is essentially a dance track with the kick drum surgically removed. It works really well, and if it was the second track, it would have probably set the tone for the album better, with “Crash Soft” located elsewhere.
As a sequence of tracks that ease you back into consciousness, then 8am – with a couple of tweaks – works really well. Certainly by leaving the slightly more uptempo tracks to the second half Teengirl Fantasy have made an album that could also double as the 8pm pre-rave warm-up disc; if there’s a criticism here it’s that a number of tracks just seem to fizzle out rather than have the confidence to end. There is enough in the raw ingredients to keep remixers interested, though, so I expect Planet Mu to release versions of tracks throughout the year. A slight lack of focus in places shouldn’t detract from a fine ambient rave album made for listening to as the sun comes up. (Jeremy Bye)