The Inner Mansions is the second album from relative newcomers Teen Daze. The Canadian group first caught the collective Internet’s eye after uploading a few tracks to a Tumblr page (how incredibly hip), and was promptly offered a record deal. The Inner Mansions may not be quite as aesthetically appealing as its predecessor All of Us, Together, but it’s no small feat to release two legitimately good albums in a single year.
If ever there was a thing called “chillwave,” Teen Daze would have perfected it. The music on The Inner Mansions, as its title might imply, is introspective and complex, at once captivating and relaxing. While the opener “New Life” sports futuristic synths and a percussive heartbeat, it’s one of the few tracks on the album to feature the group’s hazy, fuzzed-out vocals. As on All of Us, Together, Teen Daze seems to favor, and to perform its best, on the instrumentals. “Divided Loyalties” has layers of echoing, spacey synths piled on each other to create a rich texture, as well as a rather catchy dance beat. Warm piano chords hum over light percussion on the charming “Discipleship,” as the song builds and changes rhythm, its endless looping melodies spinning into each other and away again.
“Spirit” continues in this vein, with looping, atmospheric synth melodies layered above upbeat percussion, and “The Heart of God” begins with incredibly high-pitched tones that reverberate and grow, accompanied by a chorus of indistinct voices, swelling and growing. The bonus track, a cover of Brian Eno’s “Always Returning,” is ambient and gentle, a fitting conclusion to the album.
The Inner Mansions isn’t always consistent, however: “Union (feat. Frankie Rose)” is too erratic, starting out like a traditionally structured rock tune before breaking up into something a little more experimental, and “Garden 2″ lacks the melodic focus that makes its counterpart “Garden 1″ lush and evocative.
Teen Daze has had an incredibly strong start, and it will be interesting to see how the band continues to develop and hone its sound.