With Motif, Brooklyn duo Teengirl Fantasy have made the decision to plant themselves in the more serious dance music soil of R&S, upping production mores and attention to detail while remaining true to their goofy, loved-up agenda. The label is the perfect place for this kind of experimentation; and with nods to Lone and a remix by Actress on the flip, they make a convincing case for their own reinvention, shoving gaseous minor strings against percussive jigsaw pieces with a passive-aggressiveness that recalls Ital’s experiments in form and syncopated sloppiness.
The title track begins as classic Teengirl fare — inviting and unhinged — until it becomes ambushed by toms and a rewarding piano that sits itself down in the mix. The second movement of the song begins a propulsive, ambiguous jam that wanders confidently with psychedelic momentum toward a modest ending. It still possesses the down-the-rabbit-hole house mysticism of “Cheaters,” but allows itself more space to doodle and play, making for a less pressurized listen, building to a comfortable, comforting space. Accompanied by a darting, randomized flute, “Eternal” comes across as a molten IDM or a manic John Talabot, with a satisfying onslaught of kick-drum triplets and slams of brassy pads. Actress’s remix of “Motif,” in stark contrast, pursues an almost stubbornly straight form of dub techno, with a swimming, upbeat bass line that appears and then disappears behind an invisible cloak of light 2-step taps. It seems like there is an argument at play, a testament to the confusion of techno and house music, and a face-off between the minimalist and maximalist. Although Motif doesn’t quite have the instant-classic feel of their early work, it is committed to moving forward, retaining excitement, and leaving the listener pleased and hypnotized, not entirely sure of what he or she has just been through.