Fazerdaze's 2014 self-titled EP gave fans a taste of frontwoman Amelia Murray's "bedroom-pop", so-named for the lo-fi, shoegaze tracks she produced from her own bedroom. On her debut album, Morningside, Murray expands that sound into a blissful record that, infused with layers of warmth and authenticity, manages to feel at once modern and timeless.
Everything about Morningside glistens with the warmth of afternoon sun. Lead single Lucky Girl is a glorious ode to the heady inebriation of love, with its would-be twee lyrics strengthened by a sun-washed, fuzzy distortion. Take It Slow later explores the trepidation of starting a new relationship, with the track brought to a hopeful conclusion by a delightfully serene melody. While these tracks are familiar in structure, it's Murray's soothing vocals and their DIY ambience that set Fazerdaze apart from the pack.
The album also succeeds when it decides to show its teeth. Misread cuts in sharply with an exhilarating grunginess as Murray is struck with self-doubt; a backing chorus shouts along with her as she asks: "Have I misread the way I feel about you?" Penultimate track Half-Figured nails a similar kind of garage rock, with Murray lyrically laying bare and challenging her insecurities.
Morningside risks being boxed in by its own simplicity on Shoulders, which drags its feet slightly until the liberating roar of Friends takes over - but it's one minor falter that does not distract from a record that overall offers a richly satisfying listen.
Fazerdaze is capable of comforting and challenging her listeners, and Morningside is a worthy exhibition of her talents. It's a stellar debut, confirming her as one of New Zealand's most exciting artists of the moment.
Label: Flying Nun
Verdict: A lush, sunny debut that radiates with warmth.