Pop | R&B
Despite its title suggesting to some that this album is Teyana Taylor’s first, The Album, is in the third studio album from the Harlem-native R&B singer.
And while this is officially her first record to receive a critical review from myself, it wasn’t until later after the initial listen that I had actually stumbled across her second album, 2018’s K.T.S.E previously. For whatever reason (most likely it was at a point where I simply didn’t have time to fully delve into that previous project) I hadn’t reviewed it, but still remembered K.T.S.E faintly as quite the solid project.
But fast-forward to 2020, and the striking and sleek artwork of The Album led me to set up high hopes that it was going to be a fully-realised project with a lot of time and effort packed into it, which only seemed to be furthered by the fact that this new album lasts a total of over 75 minutes, and a list of 23 tracks. I was indeed very excited to delve into this extensive experience (and made sure I freed up enough time to enjoy it fully).
I was highly impressed with the sound that came from the little snippets that I teased myself with prior to the complete listen, with the instantaneous impression being that it sounded like a mixture between The Weeknd and Kanye West’s material in a stylistic sense. And given that this album, along with the previous, had been crafted with the help of G.O.O.D Music (the record label founded by Kanye West himself in 2004), my observation made sense.
The old school vibes were apparent from the very beginning of the project, as the albums first track (aside from the intro) “Come Back To Me” absolutely oozes with a beautiful sense of nostalgia, and it clearly didn’t end there. However, there is also a generous amount of tracks that feel more modern and more accessible towards a more mainstream following. What I’m basically trying to pin down here, is that The Album is absolutely abundant in versatility, and is a stellar reflection of how versatile Teyana Taylor herself can be, when adapting expertly to all of the differently styled instrumentals.
Another thing I noticed about The Album, is its strong conceptual grasp. This project explores themes of innocence, lust, trust in relationships, and most importantly self love. These themes are explored in an orderly and un-jumbled fashion thanks to The Album’s solid narrative. I felt incredibly immersed in the concept of falling in and out of love, and ultimately the truth that “self love is the best love”, as Teyana puts it.
I was also very interested in the line-up of features that this album had, which include the likes of Missy Elliot, Rick Ross, Future, Ms. Lauryn Hill, Quavo, and many more. However, while most features were placed well, others ended up on tracks that could’ve had more added to it, and this brings me to my only real issue with The Album.
I was honestly very impressed to leave this project feeling that, of all 23 tracks, most of them hit the mark, and this is a very tricky thing to pull off. However, the early mid-section of the album (specifically, tracks 6 through to 9) I found to be all pretty underwhelming. Co-incidentally, the last of tracks 6 through 9 is a track titled “69”. And yes, the song is exactly about what you think it is, and not much else.
And indeed, tracks 6 through 9 also include the 8th track “Boomin” which saw the triple threat of Teyana Taylor, Missy Elliot, and Future. And while this track was amongst the ones I was most excited to listen to initially, I really feel that they could’ve switched a few things up on the production, and perhaps the songwriting, to really give the track the oomf that it needed.
And the choice of production style, and lyrics is ultimately the biggest factor towards why tracks 6 through 9 felt so lacklustre overall. I feel that perhaps they tried to dull this section down, possibly a bit too much, as a way to make at least part of The Album undoubtedly accessible to a mainstream pop audience.
But now that I’ve covered the only glaring issue that The Album has, in my opinion, I can return to the positives that this album has plenty of. I definitely need to give credit to Teyana’s vocals throughout the entirety of the project, as her immensely angelic voice really carries a lot of why this album was so enjoyable. She honestly gives the likes of The Weeknd a real run for their money, and has that light-lyric tenor vocal range that listeners just can’t get enough of.
Combine Taylor’s stellar vocals with the strong thematic quality of The Album, and all of the infectious beats that it has, and you have something that will inevitably leave a real mark on the soundtrack of 2020.
But arguably what impressed me the most about Teyana’s third full-length project, is how she had managed to make a 23 track album feel almost completely immaculate. I feel that it’s almost impossible for an album with that length to be entirely flawless, but even getting close to that is a tricky task in itself, but Teyana Taylor has made it happen.
While that small issue with The Album still stands, the pros one-hundred percent outweigh the cons, and this project will probably stand as one of the most memorable albums of 2020.
Favourite Tracks: Come Back To Me | Lowkey | Shoot It Up | Still | How You Want It? | Made It | We Got Love
Least Favourite Track: 69
Getting Out Our Dreams Inc. | Def Jam Recordings | UMG Recordings