PopMatters is moving to WordPress. We will publish a few essays daily while we develop the new site. We hope the beta will be up sometime late next week.

Teen Daze: Themes for Dying Earth

A cold atmosphere and candid words are what make Teen Daze soar on Themes for Dying Earth.

Teen Daze

Themes for Dying Earth

Label: FLORA
US Release Date: 2017-02-10

“They shouldn’t have to fade away."

If the lyrics from “Lost” tell a story, it is that Teen Daze want nothing more than to hold on to a dream. The British Columbia-based artist lives for the idea that memories should not leave the mind with time. Through a Daughter-like melody of breezy electronics, Jamison Isaak and Nadia Hulett rise up and down, like they were riding the tide. It is a song that makes way for the end of the first half of Isaak’s fifth record Themes for Dying Earth, an album that fuses the chilly tundra environment of Glacier and the restless abandon of Morning World.

Themes, however, has a much brighter look at something dying. It is a record that gracefully moves from life to purgatory to death through rhythms that feel more peaceful than tragic. The most tragic part of a dying earth -- literally or figuratively -- is the loss of memory. Isaak does not seem to blot out the bad ones; it is more that the beautiful memories capture an energy so intense. And though a couple of sections of the record fail to capture such an overwhelming presence, Themes still puts its audience into a dream-state.

This state brings back the more chilly aspects to Teen Daze’s sound. The polyphonic texture of electronics over strings brings in the winter cold in a slow, yet endearing manner. An element like this would be nothing to write home about in another’s hands. However, the imagery used by Isaak and those he features on his tracks are what take the album further into a more ethereal realm. “Water in Heaven” presents words like they were being screened into the white light of heaven. “I felt another life lying in my bed / I dreamt I was an animal running through the sands” are expressions of candidness that break through the artificial. Along with lines from “Rising” (“What a beautiful way of watching our bodies fade”) and “Lost” (“…climb a tree, and reach a peak inside each other’s heart”), Isaak and company allow their audience to sink into a milky sea. The transition from life to death becomes the brightest thing in color and emotional tone.

The electronic portion of the record still holds as much gravity as its lyrics. On “Becoming”, the cold atmosphere and vocal tone combine to form a sense of longing within Isaak, almost like he was on a train, saying goodbye to a place he loves. In contrast to the more worried “Circle” is the blissful tone of “Cherry Blossoms”, a track with a riff that soars above its strings. “First Rain” employs a texture akin to a Bon Iver track, emptying words in a solitary field.

“Dream City”, “Anew”, and “Breath”, the more minimal songs in the album, do not take the opportunity to become more than that. They still dabble with the cold tones, but they add to the record by being an indication of time: “Dream City” touches on winter; “Anew” has the tone of the more sordid summer moments; while “Breath” takes on life, closing the record with rising synths that might as well represent a baby’s first breath into the world.

Themes is a record meant to sooth in its sensing of a crisis. It subtly implements the element of time, fashioning aspects like life and death into an intertwining of beautiful textures. The weather might be cold, and the earth might be dying, but time and memory are what drive humanity’s dream states.


Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology and hosting provider that we have less than a month, until November 6, to move PopMatters off their service or we will be shut down. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to save the site.





The 13 Greatest Horror Directors of All Time

In honor of Halloween, here are 13 fascinating fright mavens who've made scary movies that much more meaningful.


British Jazz and Soul Artists Interpret the Classics on '​Blue Note Re:imagined'

Blue Note Re:imagined provides an entrance for new audiences to hear what's going on in British jazz today as well as to go back to the past and enjoy old glories.


Bill Murray and Rashida Jones Add Another Shot to 'On the Rocks'

Sofia Coppola's domestic malaise comedy On the Rocks doesn't drown in its sorrows -- it simply pours another round, to which we raise our glass.


​Patrick Cowley Remade Funk and Disco on 'Some Funkettes'

Patrick Cowley's Some Funkettes sports instrumental renditions from between 1975-1977 of songs previously made popular by Donna Summer, Herbie Hancock, the Temptations, and others.


The Top 10 Definitive Breakup Albums

When you feel bombarded with overpriced consumerism disguised as love, here are ten albums that look at love's hangover.


Dustin Laurenzi's Natural Language Digs Deep Into the Jazz Quartet Format with 'A Time and a Place'

Restless tenor saxophonist Dustin Laurenzi runs his four-piece combo through some thrilling jazz excursions on a fascinating new album, A Time and a Place.


How 'Watchmen' and 'The Boys' Deconstruct American Fascism

Superhero media has a history of critiquing the dark side of power, hero worship, and vigilantism, but none have done so as radically as Watchmen and The Boys.


Floodlights' 'From a View' Is Classicist Antipodal Indie Guitar Pop

Aussie indie rockers, Floodlights' debut From a View is a very cleanly, crisply-produced and mixed collection of shambolic, do-it-yourself indie guitar music.


CF Watkins Embraces a Cool, Sophisticated Twang on 'Babygirl'

CF Watkins has pulled off the unique trick of creating an album that is imbued with the warmth of the American South as well as the urban sophistication of New York.


Helena Deland Suggests Imagination Is More Rewarding Than Reality on 'Something New'

Canadian singer-songwriter Helena Deland's first full-length release Someone New reveals her considerable creative talents.


While the Sun Shines: An Interview with Composer Joe Wong

Joe Wong, the composer behind Netflix's Russian Doll and Master of None, articulates personal grief and grappling with artistic fulfillment into a sweeping debut album.


Peter Frampton Asks "Do You Feel Like I Do?" in Rock-Solid Book on Storied Career

British rocker Peter Frampton grew up fast before reaching meteoric heights with Frampton Comes Alive! Now the 70-year-old Grammy-winning artist facing a degenerative muscle condition looks back on his life in his new memoir and this revealing interview.


Bishakh Som's 'Spellbound' Is an Innovative Take on the Graphic Memoir

Bishakh's Som's graphic memoir, Spellbound, serves as a reminder that trans memoirs need not hinge on transition narratives, or at least not on the ones we are used to seeing.


Gamblers' Michael McManus Discusses Religion, Addiction, and the Importance of Writing Open-Ended Songs

Seductively approachable, Gamblers' sunny sound masks the tragedy and despair that populate the band's debut album.


Peter Guralnick's 'Looking to Get Lost' Is an Ode to the Pleasures of Writing About Music

Peter Guralnick's homage to writing about music, 'Looking to Get Lost', shows how good music writing gets the music into the readers' head.


In Praise of the Artifice in George Cukor's 'Sylvia Scarlett'

George Cukor's gender-bending Sylvia Scarlett proposes a heroine who learns nothing from her cross-gendered ordeal.


The Cure: Ranking the Albums From 13 to 1

Just about every Cure album is worth picking up, and even those ranked lowest boast worthwhile moments. Here are their albums, spanning 29 years, presented from worst to best.


The 20 Best Episodes of 'Star Trek: The Original Series'

This is a timeless list of 20 thrilling Star Trek episodes that delight, excite, and entertain, all the while exploring the deepest aspects of the human condition and questioning our place in the universe.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.