Teengirl Fantasy – ‘Tracer’ (R&S Records)

With a shared love of classic house and techno records, after meeting at college American duo Nick Weiss and Logan Takahashi began making music as Teengirl Fantasy and set out to take the music they loved and twist it into something completely original. In 2010 the arrival of their debut LP 7AM on Merok Records showed that they not only had the artistic vision to back-up those intentions, but also the craft and experimental guile to realise them.

They now return with Tracer, a more focused album that opts for more complex, precisely measured arrangements than the dreamy wash of 7AM, while retaining that emotional authenticity they derive by composing their records live. Colourful, harmonic, full of serenely flowing melodies and effortless rhythms, Tracer is a beautifully constructed record that will have your mind floating along in the clouds while your body pulses to its beat.

Opening track ‘Orbit’ immediately envelops you in warming bass, drawing you into the album with skittering synth notes that tease through hushed atmospherics, very much setting the tone of what’s to follow. With the help of vocalist Kelela ‘EFX’ then brings some modern R&B flavour, moving from soulful refrain to joyous bursts of rising beds and energetic drum phases before drifting back again.

Tracks like ‘Eternal’, ‘Inca’ and ‘Mist of Time’ are unrushed movements that combine harmonious tranquillity and an array of subtle touches to create a real sense of intimacy, as if the tracks are furtively revealing something to the listener that’s been kept hidden, a sense that rises out of the rich texture of interlaying elements that are constantly flowing into each other.

‘Pyjama’ has a kind of internal conflict of tone, like a pop tune that wants to break out into a feel good vibe but is stuck straining against the warped setting of off-kilter beats and tumbling chimes, adding a bit of drama and tension to the album along the way.

‘End’ is probably the most evocative tune on the album, the deep piano notes and haunting fades again creating a sublime sense of intimacy that is rarely found in electronic dance music, creating an air in which Teengirl Fantasy invite you into their world to communicate something very special to them.

‘Do It’ offers a more dance floor focussed cut with a sharply thudding yet entirely unabrasive beat, its quietly infectious melodic arrangements enhanced by the vocals of Romanthony to create a care-free club hit with plenty of bounce, before ‘Timeline’ see’s us out with more blissful atmospherics and a punchy bass line, epitomising the complexity and masterful execution the album displays as a whole.

Effortless from start to finish, Teengirl Fantasy have concentrated their experimental tendencies and fine-tuned their compositional approach to produce a record of real ambition and quality. They weave rich textures from an array of elements with total cohesion, and the emotive touch that seeps through their music makes for something really quite special.

Robert Mccorquodale