Tearjerker: "So Dead" / "Blood"

Single (2011)

By Kaylen Hann | 5 December 2011

Few things will earn you a round of high-fives like saying, “Fuck chillwave.” Maybe a moon or two ago, a review of mine included a couple sentences of how deliriously cheap and recession-friendly chillwave is, and to my dismay, a slew of people took this as a personal declaration of “I hate chillwave” and responded with…whatever the Internet’s version of a high-five is.

So, um, I like chillwave? With ringing affirmation: “I like chillwave.” And it’s the pulmonary-pounding, distortion-wielders like Toronto’s three-piece Tearjerker that make me stick my neck out for their like. Repeatedly. Unabashedly.

Previously released LP Strangers (2010; which was and still is a free download, by the bye, as a little gift prior to the release of recently released, full-length album, Rare) was a notably raw execution with rough-hewn tracks set in lake-sized puddles of dark, drippy synths and bass rolls. Its big, sad-eyed professions and pleas one could only imagine coming from the seductively droopy face of Ryan Gosling.

While that is all clearly something I enjoy, the first of two new tracks instantly dislodges Tearjerker from the sad-saturated bed of silt. “So Dead” plummets from the opening beat into a resolute momentum, driving with something as unexpected as maraca shakes and an uplifting froth of excitement just beneath the no-less-discernible buzz of lyrics. Like having just enough whiskey after a redbull, second new track “Blood” balances this body-high with something explicitly chilled out: a melodic trickle of piano, bare licks of electric guitar, and a nasal strain of vocals reaching an appreciable Woods-like falsetto, tethered to the rest of the song from a great height.

Connected by a consistent trace of radio crackle and wrapped in the same layer of starchy distortion—thick as rice rolled around tuna in shitty sushi—the aesthetic that delivered such a direct and slow-lurching impact on Strangers is now re-imagined as a more frenetic take on the genre. Two different songs and two different takes, what remains is: this is chillwave I sincerely believe in.