Tearjerker’s polished and precise artistry grows exponentially the further you burrow into Faded.

There’s something to be said for a band playing the long game. Sticking to a sound that works and working it hard so that, in the end, the music sounds effortless. Over four albums and a fistful of singles and EPs, Toronto-based trio Tearjerker has mined and refined distorted guitar rock, deeply inhaled all manner of wispy, gauzy dreampop, and synthesized a sound and aesthetic that is all their own. Faded, their latest full length, is deceptively pleasing. At first blush, it sounds like standard-fare shoegaze but your appreciation of Tearjerker’s polished and precise artistry grows exponentially the further you burrow into Faded’s eleven tracks.

Opener “New Boy” pulls something of a bait-and-switch. It starts off sounding very much like any other mid-tempo fuzzy guitar-bass-drum track accompanied by Micha Bonte’s shimmery, barely-there vocals; two-thirds of the way in, it begins a slow, steady fade out. Minimalist, muted piano and acoustic guitar chime in to pick up the song’s delicate melody before gently collapsing into a final feedback-filled chord, the sound of a child’s voice, and gentle rain. If your heart’s not melting at this point, it’s possible you don’t have one.

Lyrically (and possibly IRL itself) Tearjerker’s members seem fixated on the idea that their blooms are fading and their best days are behind them (“Growing Up”, “Faded”, and “Getting By”). Musically speaking, the band is just hitting its stride. They revisit the false-ending/slight-return tactic of “New Boy” on “Tell Me”, a song that is so seductive in its simplicity; it’s a stand-out without relying on ostentatious flourishes or over-the-top production and slips its funky rhythm into “Want To”’s piano-led melody like one long slow jam. 

Tearjerker gets their intensity by layering on textures rather than turning up the volume, as evidenced by the wonderfully fluid “Shore” and “Restless”, a vividly rendered, washed-out daydream of a song about anxiety: “I lie awake / And I’m feeling anxious / Try not to make it worse / Stare at the ceiling / I’m getting the feeling I’m not going into work”. There’s the dichotomy between the song’s music and words, but what’s most striking is Bonte’s near lackadaisical delivery; so much angst and vitriol over anxiety and stress has been shouted and yelled about lately, one forgets there is another musical gear that’s equally (if not more so) effective. It’s a welcome alternative to the noises being made by obnoxious white boys sing-shouting about “morbid stuff”. With Faded, Tearjerker isn’t just getting by, they’ve pulled ahead to the top of the class of 2019 with one of the year’s most finely rendered records.

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