Balancing the austerity of ambient and the warmth, catchiness and smoothness of dream pop has long been the M.O. of Teen Daze, aka Jamison Isaak; hailing from BC's Fraser Valley, his work has always felt like it operates on romanticized notions of the natural world.
He embraces that idealism one more on Themes for Dying Earth, mining the beauty of the natural world for inspiration, considering it as both a retreat from the anxiety of modern life and a bounty to be protected. The lush and varied textures on this album demonstrate that inspiration; the first sounds we hear are reversed vocal samples that build to a scurrying synth riff backed by a rainy field recording, before the pop of "Cycle" really kicks in. The flickers of woody percussion on "Lost" and bass on "Cherry Blossoms" convey an animalistic sense of restlessness.
Nadia Hulett helps explicitly vocalize the theme of nature-as-reprieve on "Lost," with the lyric, "Deep inside the woods is where I go to understand." On a more macro level, the album is sequenced with the meditative breathing room of an instrumental every few tracks, culminating in the bed of synth clouds on "Breath."
Teen Daze's awareness of climate change comes through in the album title, but it's addressed head on in the lyrics to "Rising": "Will an endless wave take us away? / An ending we created, nothing left to save." In a world of gradually rising sea levels, the sense of loss is palpable.
These threads weave a very cohesive, if slightly precious, album. Teen Daze is by no means the first or biggest artist to idealize nature so earnestly, but that idealism works as a unifying purpose here, imbuing both large and small details of this already very personal music with added meaning — and feeling. (FLORA records)