Release Date: May 5, 2017
Record label: Flying Nun
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
Flying Nun Records, arguably the best ambassador of New Zealand's music scene, is continuing to document both the past and present of that country's distinctive pop sound. Recently, their efforts have landed on a fascinating glimpse into the work being done by women on this island nation with the release of Still Bewitched, a compilation pulling together the work of the '80s-era group Look Blue Go Purple, and Morningside, the debut full-length from lo-fi solo artist Fazerdaze. Inspired by The Raincoats and The Slits, Look Blue Go Purple formed in 1983 and toured regularly with labelmates The Bats and The Chills.
"When I'm writing a song I never think about who's gonna hear it, I just try and think about what I'm feeling, and I try and articulate it. " In a current musical climate which has encouraged the popularisation of bedroom-recorded, diary-entry tracks, intelligent in their expression of the oft inexpressible, it's no surprise that Fazerdaze's Amelia Murray characterises her music as slotting into that category. Significantly, however, it wouldn't be a stretch to say that Murray's musicality feels less like bandwagon box-checking, and more like the truly authentic.
Here is a record that feels like being invited into that most private space, the bedroom, and uncovering those anxieties and intimacies it plays host to. It feels almost clichéd at this point to refer to an album as "like reading someone's diary", but Morningside feels more like a confessional from Murray herself to the listener than something more voyeuristic. There's an element of hope, as though she's giving us the tools to tackle obstacles she's already faced - it's friendly advice when it's needed most.
Amelia Murray is exactly what bedroom pop has been crying out for. Too often, records of this ilk-centered around fleeting shoegaze guitar lines and hushed musings on seclusion-have little to offer beyond invitingly human aesthetics. Seemingly, not hers. On her first full-length record under the Fazerdaze moniker, she crafts some of the most complete and worthwhile dream pop in recent memory.
Morningside, the debut album from Auckland's Fazerdaze, is a dream-pop record with both of its feet on the ground. You can let its tide-like synths and effortless guitar wash over you like a breezy, late-summer haze, or you can pull on the album's narrative thread and follow Amelia Murray's eminently relatable message about young life's transitional moments. Murray is a straightforward yet quietly devastating lyricist whose lines bear the carefree candid trademark of youth.
Amelia Murray, the 24-year-old Auckland musician who records as Fazerdaze, is the latest signee to Flying Nun Records. On her debut LP, Morningside, it's instantly clear that she is not beholden to the label's signature style of Velvets-indebted guitar pop known as the "Dunedin sound." Her potent indie pop of goes for a feeling of clarity instead. Murray draws from a relatively limited pallet--guitars, drums, the occasional keyboard line--but Morningside is notably more confident than anything on her debut EP from three years ago.
Fazerdaze makes music for lazy days, the kind where you don't need any loud or busy music to distract you from watching the world drift by. Using simple tools -- guitars both acoustic and electric, bass, drums, keys, her voice, and loads of reverb -- New Zealander Amelia Murray crafts simple music that's easy to swallow and easy to love in a subdued way. Morningside rolls past on a soft wave of pretty melodies, muted strings, and clearly arranged songs that don't feel like singles, but they seem familiar and comfortable.
There is a soothing, warm presence within Morningside that makes up for its lack of dynamic and flexible changes. Fazerdaze creates an album that is childlike in nature, one that has a sometimes annoyingly clean varnish. While the Auckland-based band's debut might be one that could be lost to time, it is a fairly strong piece that shows its internal and external conflicts well.