With some of their past releases, experimental pop duo Teengirl Fantasy have had their ambitions restricted by their technical abilities, which was the case with last year's Nun EP. While these restrictions added a level of earnestness to their material, it also held them back. It's nice to hear these restrictions finally gone, as their new EP Thermal is easily Logan Takahashi's and Nick Weiss' most polished work to date, including four tracks that are much less frenetic that show an increased level of restraint.
Opener "Cavescape" does a good job of emulating the cavernous echoes and claustrophobic feelings caves induce, sometimes reminiscent of the electronic style favoured by Arca and his ilk. Once again showing their knack for picking up-and-coming collaborators, such as they did on the Kelela-assisted "EFX," Lafawndah's smooth vocals on "Lung" are seamlessly integrated within the backing drum pattern, neither ever outshining the other; their recently released music video attests to a particularly well-chosen partnership. The instrumental "7:30am" is not directed to those waking up for their 9-to-5 jobs, but for those who are just coming down from their all-nighter and need a tranquil atmospheric beat-driven soundtrack, while nicely setting the tone for the EP closer. "U Touch Me" features Korean underground R&B artist Hoody, who sings in both Korean and English, whose aural sensibilities borrow from the druggy ambient R&B DNA that's particularly popular right now.
Thermal is a very balanced effort, on which the instrumental tracks are nicely contrasted with the vocal-assisted cuts. It finally highlights the Teengirl Fantasy's potential for greatness. (Break World Records)