Tei Shi has described her work as “mermaid music.” It’s as good a description as any, as her songs tend to include many different genres layered on top of one another. She also has a voice that draws you in, like the siren song of the sea.
Pop music is the easiest way to classify it, though I don’t know a lot of pop songs that end in a free form jazz breakdown or long sparse outro’s that drip with emotion. The Argentinian-born singer/producer doesn’t settle for the status quo at any point on Crawl Space. Instead, she fills it with sounds that exhibit her personal insecurities and desires. Her voice has a quality of soft sweetness that reminds me of Janet Jackson’s vocals on Janet Jackson’s Janet. album.
The 90’s influences don’t stop there. Early hip-hop beats lay the groundwork for “Baby,” before she adds her contemporary spin which turns it into a glittering dream of warmth and love. That somehow slides perfectly into the dark and funky “How Far.” The opening riff sounds like it was inspired by Frank Ocean’s “Pink Matter,” which isn’t a bad way to start a song. There aren’t a lot of lyrics on this one, but these words repeated make the message pretty clear: “It pleases you to say you’re sorry when you’re not/It’s a dangerous slip of the tongue/If it pleases you to see me struggling/I will.”
“Say You Do” has a Carly Rae Jepsen vibe to it. Jepsen is also prone to 90’s pop sounds, so it makes sense that the most straightforward pop track on the album would sound like something Jepsen would make. Shi puts a bit of herself in there, but it should feel familiar to anyone who listens to mainstream radio.
For that you’ll have to move on to “Justify,” easily the best song on the album. It’s pure raw feeling from beginning to end. The production is a huge contrast from the track that precedes it, with a very futuristic feel to it. The soft, sweet vocals turn to a more sultry tone that leads to a final third of the song that is all bass and a yearning yowl.
There aren’t any bad songs here, and the short interludes provide a deeper look into the psyche of the singer. If you enjoy pop music with a twist, you would do well to check out Crawl Space when it is released on March 31st on Downtown Records. You can even pre-order it here. Tei Shi will be hitting the road with MØ starting next Monday for a sold out show at Metro in Chicago and continuing through the 23rd of March.
For more info on Tei Shi, check out her website.