July 10, 2017

LP: Fazerdaze - Morningside

Bask in the hot summer sun with Fazerdaze's Morningside.

To get right to the point, Fazerdaze chose the perfect time to release an album like Morningside because of two current cultural phenomena. Number one, it’s become quite the hot topic for just about every media site to set out in search of “the song of the summer.” Obviously it’s been an idea in public consciousness for decades, but only over the past few years has it become a nearly-Olympic-sized competition (though why even compete with a song like "Green Light"?). Phenomenon two comes straight from the Roadhouse of David Lynch’s indecipherable head. With the return of Twin Peaks - a show whose fanbase has an inexplicably huge overlap with indie music-heads everywhere - Lynch has brought back a serial concert of contemporary bands that focus on the moody, broody, hyper-melodramatic tone set by the music and the mystery of the original series. It’s almost difficult not to have both these current fads in mind while diving into the newest album from Auckland’s Fazerdaze.

There’s no doubting that it’s a record heavy on gloomy melodrama, yet every single track from the dreamy pop-rockers feels more summer-y than the last, layering relaxing and chill-worthy vibes over subtle, quirky drum patterns. Fitting snugly into the indie mindframe while also focusing on broad-sweeping pop hymnals, Fazerdaze accesses a minute area between the blissful and the melancholy. There’s nothing that defies the term “easy listening” here. But of course, there’s also nothing claiming that to be the case. Fazerdaze understands its outfit and sticks with it, working from the inside to reach for discordant human emotions through straightforward hot-music songs. “Lucky Girl,” the album’s first and most prominent single, rides the success wave from the earliest records of Alvvays or Diet Cig. The reverb is on high and the guitar sounds almost foreign to its own body, broadcasting smooth and unadulterated melodies of all highs and no lows. But once the shimmering energy of the first half of the record dissolves, Fazerdaze finds their more lovely and catchy songwriting niche.

“Shoulders” is easily one of the album’s best tracks, focusing in on a light and somewhat unsettling synth line overtop gentle, flowery drum kicks and snares. Its placid serenity makes the vocals sound the brightest and make the emotional mood most effective, turning out a tune that would sound the most at home in the David Lynch fanclub canon. Though it’s the most present on a track like “Shoulders,” the album as a whole draws most of its strength from its ability to never stir up too much dirt. The production isn’t overdone, but it’s clean enough that a simple medley of caustic drum pops and far-away vocal reverb can come off smooth and settled, like on the album’s final track, “Bedroom Talks.” It’s easy to imagine the music as danceable when you’re focused on the vocals, but just as easy to imagine it as nap time music when you’re focused on the backdrop of repetitive pop loops. Just like the cover portrays, Fazerdaze use this collection of tracks to take aim at a specifically hazy mood. It’s one that is just perfect for the start of the summer, when the heat makes you drowsy and you’re able to relax with extra time off of work or school. It’s a mood that sticks just like sweat to sunscreened skin, and one that makes these ten songs almost too easy to play over and over again under the hot July sun.


Listen to Fazerdaze on bandcamp.

Elijah Fosl is a freelance music and culture writer who's really bad at describing themselves. They hail from Louisville but live in Chicago where they work, ferociously devouring cassette tapes and local produce. Find them on Twitter at @elifosl