When Teni offered her first project then in 2019, she was transiting from a newbie to a hit maker. One called on to kill features and one whose next single was always certain to make an impression. It was a new state of life for the singer who had blossomed from Fargin to dishing trendy pop hits—Askamaya, Case, Sugar Mommy.
So when Billionaire became the pearl of that project, it dispelled thoughts Teni was a one season wonder. Billionaire eased onto playlists and song of the year conversations. It’s almost two years after that EP and for her debut album, WONDALAND, Teni still reins in her carefree attitude. The jazzy, party vibe sound that sculpted Askamaya is more visible in WONDALAND, so are the sprinklings of life’s struggles and emotional rumblings.
The sound template tends to a softer, melodic structure but one can’t miss the upbeat, resounding tempo too. In one word, WONDALAND offers variety. Here’s our thoughts after listening to the album.
1. Teni sounds happy and carefree
Following the theme of the album, Teni is at her expressive self. Each song presents an opportunity to defuel her tank-filled mind of thoughts.
While at it, she’s having fun. Whether on the romantic turf or just catching a vibe, she doesn’t come short of songwriting excellence.
Moslado, 100 Metres, Okocha are examples of songs where there are no much meaning attached to them. It’s Teni just being expressive.
2. …She shows off her vulnerable side too
We rarely see Teni talk about life struggles. Her previous songs complement this no-pressure, funny persona of hers. There’s money talk and life aspirations (Billionaire), love and emotions (Case and Power Ranger) and sometimes she’s drowned in introspection (Uyo Meyo).
But on the album’s fifth track, “HUSTLE” she opens up on the travails of being a superstar, especially the expectations and demands.
On the three-minute track, there’s talk of pressure, being let down and a lot of confusion.
3. XXXL should have been the intro
Of recent, we’ve heard albums start off with emotions on the high side (Davido’s Intro, Burna Boy’s Level Up) or the frenetic, high energy mode of Wizkid’s Reckless. Teni understands the importance of starting off your album on a good note since the first track most times gives a preview of what to expect on the ensuing tracks.
Perhaps the reason she embedded her aunt’s panegyric recital on Maja but it can’t compare to the solemn, cathartic feels of XXXL. And when the airy vocals of Pheelz enters the fray, it makes the song more emotional. Deserves a video treatment.
4. Some songs should have gotten features
GAME OVER was screaming for those Fireboy vocals. Oxlade with an earwormy hook on “ON” would have boosted the efficacy of the song.
I understand Teni wants to do it her way but calling up one or two artists to enhance some songs would have made them better.
5. Teni and Pheelz are a great pair
It’s another masterpiece for Pheelz. Developing sonic relationships with artists like Olamide, Tiwa Savage and Fireboy last year, Pheelz has proven he’s on a god level mode again.
Helming 9 out of WONDALAND’s 17 tracks, the producer has some of the best tracks on the album which seems to be as a result of developing an understanding of Teni’s sound while working on 2019’s Billionaire EP.
Sometimes, Pheelz’s creations gives inspiration to Teni to float and joyfully express herself and other times, it sinks the singer to a moody mode (Hustle, XXXL).
6. WONDALAND is quite lengthy
While there’s nothing wrong in having 17, 18 tracks but toeing this path opens the album for noticeable flaws.
When there are obvious standouts, more than 15 tracks on an album makes it complicated for a listener to rinse the project again. A lot of skips will occur and an average listener will only listen to the standouts. Songs like Black, Toxic could have been cut out to slim the album.
7. For You remains the standout.
Asides from the Davido collaboration, For You and Hustle, there are no other impressive standouts. Still, the album’s strength is in its cohesive sound structure, meaning some of the tracks will get a lot of love as time goes on.
This article was written by Olabode Otolorin; connect on Instagram with him here