Teen Daze

The Inner Mansions

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While producer Jamison's first two Teen Daze releases, the EP A Silent Planet and the full-length All of Us, Together were inspired by literary works, he looks inward on his second album, examining love and spirituality. Even though The Inner Mansions has a title that sounds just as bookish as his other work, and these songs aren't any more literal than the atmospheric synth pop of his previous music, they do have a more emotive, more compelling feel than the utopian ideals that fueled All of Us, Together. The newfound depth and scope -- not to mention more focused melodies and songwriting -- on tracks such as "New Life" and "Divided Loyalties" recall a homespun version of M83's widescreen romanticism. These songs are intercut with more abstract interludes, like the seven-minute-long "Discipleship," or the lilting "Spirit," both of which are just as sweet and sparkly as anything on A Silent Planet or All of Us, Together, but benefit from the contrast of The Inner Mansions' more structured songs. "Union," a collaboration with Frankie Rose, is one such standout, a wonderfully hazy piece of synth-driven dream pop that marks the album's prettiest and most dynamic moment. Interestingly, pieces such as "The Garden 2" and "By Love" manage to out-bliss much of Teen Daze's previous work as they paint pictures of an electro-pop Eden, and only a cover of Brian Eno's "Always Returning" could follow a choral piece called "The Heart of God" and not feel anticlimactic. It's not uncommon for artists to lose a little of their music's heart when they upgrade their sonics, but The Inner Mansions is equally emotional and polished, and some of Teen Daze's finest work.

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