The morning can be rough for some people. Your bones are creaky, your vision foggy. You might be hungry, and you almost definitely have to pee. The whole thing just feels like a hassle. For most of my life, I was one of these people. I don’t know, maybe it comes with age or something, but now some of my earliest moments of the day end up being some of my favorite moments. The sun’s barely awake, and already, people all across the newly glowing portion of the country are getting up to start their day, just like you. That thought and a cup of coffee often gets my days started fairly well. This quiet meditation, and the feelings that surround it, are the thesis of the new Teen Daze record, Morning World. This is Teen Daze’s (who goes by the monomous “Jamison” in professional life) first full length release since 2012’s Glacier.
The first track, “Valley of Gardens” does what good first tracks should do, and sets the tone of the record that follows: beautiful string composition, with light synth accompaniment. I will admit, sometimes it’s more than light, like with the siren-esque synths that take us out of the title track, but it’s always true to the sound portrayed on the album’s cover; sunny and shimmering. Though an orange sunset on beige sand doesn’t quite do the music justice, for in between the calm beauty, are glimpses of anguish, like in “Post Storm,” a Wooden Shjips-esque instrumental jam, that ends in a brief and beautiful vocal refrain. One of my favorite aspects of this record is the time the listener is allowed with the composition. The sounds Jamison is dealing with are broad and expansive as his imagery, and it speaks to this skill of the maestro that we’re given the space to swim around inside them. While some music may be a vehicle for the lyric, Jamison positions the music as the star of the show.
The Teen Daze vocal takes androgyny to another level, in the best way. It’s sexless, and as such, as if it’s rising above gender identification. It’s music for “anyone,” by “anyone.” Think Sufjan Stevens, with more range and less whisper. “Garden Grove” is among the more Sufjan-esque tracks, it’s twittering riffs and surging bass creating a frosty base for the layered, almost choral vocal. Far dancier than the rest of the tracks, “You Said” is an anthem for the up-and-at-em’s of the world, a group of people too chipper even for me. A bustling ride cymbal fills the space, and gives the sonorous, chorusing synth miles to run around in.
Though it’s been done before, I don’t recall the last time I enjoyed the blending of electronic and natural musics so thoroughly. If the balance between synth and string isn’t fully realized, it plays as rushed, or amatuer. It’s clear the instruments in play here, whether played by strumming, bowing, or clicking, are in good hands. Morning World plays like a memory of a dream vacation you never had. Bright, beautiful, and quietly mysterious, Jamison has crafted a proud addition to the Teen Daze discography. Catch Jamison at the Lost Lake Lounge in Denver, October 22nd, or at his respective social media outlets, including Facebook, Twitter, BandCamp, and Tumblr.