– this review was first published here at This Is Not a Drill –
It keeps happening: I find out about a new band I like and then it turns out that Everett True has written about them years ago. Fazerdaze is only the most recent instance of this phenomenon. So here we are about two years later and here’s Fazerdaze’s debut album, Morningside.
I’ve got this never-ending discussion with my friend Rob (who’s a music geek) about what constitutes dream pop. The point is, a lot of dream pop really isn’t. Fazerdaze definitely isn’t. Lead single ‘Lucky Girl’ isn’t. It’s sung from behind a shimmering layer of echo and noise, but it fails to be dreamy. If this was dream pop, after all, I would be tapping my foot in my sleep, and I’ve never noticed myself doing that (though who knows?). Not that that’s a bad thing, of course: dreams are pretty boring (it’s only the nightmares that could be of interest) and so is dream pop.
I propose a different way to classify music like Fazerdaze (same music, different name): illusion pop. Because there is an illusion at the core of Morningside, which is that there is movement on an album that’s going nowhere – and that’s not bad, because “going nowhere” isn’t the same as “stagnant”. I take it that this is what people mean when they use the road-metaphor: an endless process of going without ever getting somewhere.
Sometimes this works well. ‘Lucky Girl’ is the stand-out track: it’s sonically interesting, got a catchy melody that’s fun to hum in your head (who doesn’t want to be a lucky girl?) and most of all it works out the movement-illusion to near perfection. I can imagine ‘Lucky Girl’ being a never-ending song and I would be happy about it. ‘Jennifer’ does something similar, but in down-tempo mode – why should our car be a fast Ferrari instead of a cruising Cabriolet? But it, too, has some internal logic that pushes itself forth, like a perpetuum mobile, an engine that never runs out because it creates its own energy.
Unfortunately, not all songs reach this level of heavenly forgetfulness. Some other tracks on Morningside are, well, just a bit boring. Too much dream, and not enough illusion, as it were. And if there’s no illusion, there’s nothing to believe in either. This is not Fazerdaze’s fault, I think it’s fair to say, because her musical style is part of what I feel is becoming an increasingly popular sound – see also The Courtneys, Continental Drift, half of The Sloppy Heads. It’s a sound I can’t do much with, except blink and nod. The fact that Fazerdaze can turn it into something intriguing only shows her talent.
Morningside is out today on Flying Nun. Order here.
-- Caspar Jacobs, May 6, 2017