This Houston Duo Captures the Sound of Adolescence
There’s a long tradition of bands choosing terrible names. Teenage Wildlife, however, is remarkably spot-on, delivering a healthy dose of adolescent angst (and nostalgia) with a self-titled EP. The new side project from Mantra Love’s Derek Silva and Nader and the Trees’ Nader Ibrahim is quintessential chillwave—a cooler, modern spin on the genre, surpassing expectations to really dive into the emotional mess that was our youth.
Mix a dreamy, relaxed beat with a robust guitar, and the EP is a thrill to listen to, even if the sound isn’t far off from Silva’s other project. This EP shares the plucky, unplugged quality of Mantra Love without the more rhythmically and instrumentally diverse work of Nader and the Trees. Yeah, there’s a hypnotic sameness to the five tracks, but doesn’t that sound like being a teenager again?
“You” kicks off the EP with a mid-tempo track that shows the band’s true colors. The lyrics consist of a single, repeated line: “I try to find some things to do to distract my mind thinking of you.” Those words become a mantra floating above the wandering instrumental track, the repetition causing your attention to slip from one instrument to another in a state of mellow boredom.
My personal favorites include “Just Yesterday” and “One of Those Days.” “Just Yesterday” is the requisite breakup track—the singer remarks on how so much has changed and wonders about the future. A touch too much reverb lends a melodramatic, whiny quality to the track, but it must be there to set the stage for “One of Those Days.” This is the track that captures the apathetic ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ moment that follows heartbreak, the one where you give up the sentimental baggage and pick up with your own life whether you want to or not. It’s about angst, for sure, and delivers one the EP’s rare moments of clarity amid the general haziness of the other tracks.
The final track, “Lost ‘Till the End,” is about as funky as it gets for this duo, trading the down-home plucky sound for classical guitar. It’s a short one, clocking in at just over two minutes, and serves as a contemplative ode to lost love. “Life has slipped away but I’ll never forget her face” is the line that jumps out, perhaps a lyrical nod to the album art featuring a woman’s face superimposed with ghostlike translucency over a technicolor scene. Think of it as yet another entry into the timeless question, What could have been?
Sure, there are moments on the EP when the lyrics lapse into the realm of naïve or silly, but the project is a fun reminder of simpler days. Silva and Ibrahim’s potential shines even in this short entry, and we wouldn't mind some more music from the duo.