Tracer proved that Teengirl Fantasy aren't content to remain in one musical place or mood for too long. The duo continue that trend with their first EP, Nun, which consists of entirely instrumental tracks (another first). The pleasure Logan Takahashi and Nick Weiss get from experimenting within a smaller, lower-pressure format is easy to hear throughout Nun, and the EP often sounds like an inspired blend of Tracer's restraint and 7AM's passion.
Since forming a few years ago at Oberlin College, the dance duo Teengirl Fantasy have kept their fingers on the pulse of dance music's trends and subtly shifted accordingly. Nick Weiss and Logan Takahashi's subsequent successes, from an irreverently dance-y 2009 CD-R to a couple of solid full-length releases, can be largely attributed to this ability. Their records—including the foggy 2010 debut 7AM and 2012's more new age-y Tracer, which featured assists from Kelela and Laurel Halo—offered glimmers of potential and delivered the occasional standout (three years later, "Cheaters" is still something to behold), but in 2013, it still feels like they're searching for their own individual sound.
Last year, Teengirl Fantasy released their sophomore album, Tracer, a terrific collection of songs that found the duo expanding into sleeker pop territory with help from Kelela, Panda Bear and the late Romanthony. On Nun, their digital-only EP, the Ohio synth purveyors scale things back a bit, giving the listener 14 minutes of bare bones instrumental electronic music, recorded sans samples or guests.Following the lead set by artists like Simian Mobile Disco and Laurel Halo, the four songs that make up Nun rely on technical savvy and textural layering. On the opening title track, Teengirl Fantasy craft a synthetic ebb and flow, combining crackling drums and wavering, warped melodies.
What seems to be holding Teengirl Fantasy back? On their last studio album, Tracer, Logan Takahashi and Nick Weiss produced a succinct collection of tracks, instrumental passages weaving between the record’s standouts, which featured Kelela, Panda Bear, and Laurel Halo. On their new EP, Nun, the duo push for a slightly more mature sound, reminiscent of Tracer’s wordless glitch-dance tunes, but also completely devoid of any human contact. Electronic music doesn’t require clear incorporation of human, analog sound (vocals, for example) to be successful.
“I think these tracks come from a sort of over-attention to detail,” said Teengirl Fantasy’s Nick Weiss of new EP Nun in a recent interview. As those who have followed the Brooklyn duo’s career to date will know, this does not bode well. Weiss and partner in crime Logan Takahashi have always suffered, as much as benefitted, from their tendency to overcomplicate things.