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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Review: Teengirl Fantasy’s Tracer

    Courtesy of Pitchfork

    From the first note of plodding bass guitar, Teengirl Fantasy’s new record Tracer makes it clear you’re going to space. “Orbit,” Tracer’s first track, spends two whole minutes starting up the engines, revving the bass as it lets sparkling arpeggios flicker between your headphones as if testing the lights of the space shuttle. The synthesizers kick in, but go quiet again within seconds, teasing you. Then, out of nowhere, the music cuts out completely and Logan Takahashi and Nick Weiss breathe softly into the microphones: they’ll be your captains this evening. Finally, your very headphones start to quiver and the next thing you know, you’re gone. Blast off.

    It’s hard to listen to Tracer and not marvel at how well it’s paced. True, most of the songs drag too much to dance to, and shine too much to study to. But every song has its purpose, as if Teengirl Fantasy has thoughtfully plotted out its trek through the universe. And they’re not alone on this journey. From Kelela’s 90s R&B vocal on “EFX” to the wonderfully goofy Romanthony on “Do It” to the mournful cry of Panda Bear on “Pyjama,” the vocal features on this album are pretty fantastic. In fact, I’d wager you could pick out any one of the collaborations on this album and realistically picture it as an underground hit, club danceability be damned. Even the delightfully sloppy “Pyjama” has its merits, bearing just enough off-the-wall percussion to lull you into thinking it’s an Animal Collective song. These kinds of touchstones and references are scattered all throughout Tracer, making it fun to listen, if at times a bit repetitive. Nonetheless, Tracer is an album dense and scintillating enough that you could lose yourself in it just as easily sober as you could stoned.

    This attention to sonic detail is where Tracer really shines. Not every instrumental track is as engrossing as the beats they saved for the vocalists. However, on the two-part epic that is “The End” followed by “Vector Spray,” the band lets loose enough percussion and melody to ensure that you are anything but bored. Tracer briefly missteps with the only real clunker of the album, the repetitive “Inca,” that unhelpfully employs the most obnoxious woodblock sound effect I’ve ever heard. Nevertheless, by the time Romanthony has hilariously insisted that he “do it” many times over, the album gets back on track with the pleasant “Timeline,” a solid if not totally stunning dance track to blast you back into space before you get a chance to leave the party.

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