But Tycho arrived just as the glow of chillwave—Washed Out, Toro y Moi, Neon Indian—faded. Still, the music seemed like the musical equivalent of Instagram's Amaro filter, which fades colors and casts everything in a lazy daydream glow. Instagram, which instantly turned boring cell phone photos into an idyllic sun-faded series of magical moments, arrived in October 2010, at the height of chillwave. Such music and visuals stuck because they were tailor made for, well, chilling out and doing nothing. With so many 20-somethings enduring a slow economy that kept on cratering as college-loan debt loomed, was there a better option than nostalgia-soaked leisure? Tycho's twinkling electronics offered a soundtrack for watching ambitions disappear in the daylight.
But on Awake, Tycho, just like other maturing members of the passing "chillwave" fancy, works against the daydream state of that musical moment. Everything is considerably less bleary-eyed. Tycho is even a three-piece band now, a move that allows these songs to be bigger, transcending warped pleasantries and reaching post-rock peaks. No longer is this IDM shuffling its feet; rather, it's shoegaze that's lifted its eyes from the ground to stare ahead with confidence, suspecting a future approaching at the horizon line. —Brandon Soderberg