Whether you call it Chill-wave, Beach Rock, or Surf Music, the influence of The Beach Boys continues to play a huge role in the world of Indie Rock. Not only do present day musicians have an incredible reverence for the tight harmonies and nostalgic feel of the era when The Beach Boys ruled the charts, Brian Wilson continues to provide a point of inspiration, as evidenced in his critically lauded 2004 album, Smile. In the time of a double-dip recession, government bailouts, global terrorism, and now the WikiLeaks meltdown, who can blame musicians for wanting to encapsulate a hazy and warm day at the beach into a four-minute pop song?
Teen Daze has done just that on his latest EP, Beach Dreams. A short collection of just four songs, spanning nearly 15 minutes in length, the Vancouver artist works to transport the listener out of his chilly December environment, making us long for the warm days of Summers past. The good news is that Teen Daze excels in creating this warm, sunny world—the bad news is that they don’t do it in a consistently interesting fashion.
Opening track “Let’s Fall Asleep Together” gets the album off to an animated start, using plenty of drums and bass to get the rhythm moving at an energetic speed. Vocal harmonies float above the motor, much like a surfer already in motion as they first come into view. The lyrics are precious, as the lead singer gently sings, “The sun was set in the sky, a fragment, a piece of a memory that you used to think about me.” A sense of nostalgia is woven right into the song itself; even as these characters are lying in the sun, their thoughts are turned to the past as well.
Unfortunately, the rest of the EP doesn’t always match the magic of the propulsive opening track. “Water” essentially captures the same rhythm as “Let’s Fall Asleep Together,” but the lyrics and harmonies above don’t have the same sense of sincerity involved. The amount of reverb applied to the vocals makes the fragmentary lyrics just that much harder to understand. “Cliff Jump Love Song” tries to resuscitate the energy, making more use of bright guitars and percussion. It’s a great effect, leaving the listener hoping there is a dance floor located somewhere close on the boardwalk. The closing title track does little to keep this momentum moving for the last minutes of the EP, once again using more languid and hazy material, which comes across with a certain level of sweetness, but without energetic interest.
Teen Daze is at his best when writing up-tempo numbers and these songs certainly make for the best use of points of inspiration he culled from the 1960s California rock scene. For only his second release, this artist is moving in the right direction, and growing as a songwriter. Only future music will be able to show whether or not Teen Daze can stand alongside groups like The Drums or The Shins when it comes to recreating the beach, even in the dead of winter.