Tei Shi La Linda Downtown Records
In the cover art for her 2017 debut, Crawl Space, Valerie Teicher appears serene as a tarantula creeps steadily over one eye. Like the collection’s claustrophobic title, the image is intended as a metaphor for Teicher’s journey, and the courage she’s shown overcoming various creative and emotional hurdles.
You could argue the artwork for this follow-up is every bit as oppressive. And yet the mood within has lifted, finding the Argentina-born, Colombia and Canada-raised singer buoyed by a renewed sense of wonder at the world, as reflected in an album title that literally translates from Spanish as “the beautiful.”
Characterised by shimmering synths, featherlight vocals and pillowy grooves, La Linda feels far less concerned with notions of cool than its predecessor, catering instead for the hopeless romantics amongst us. The gossamer funk of Dev Hynes duet Even If It Hurts is a standout, as is the dreamy doo wop of When He’s Done. Better still is Matando, on which Teicher embraces her mother tongue over xylophone arpeggios and cumbia-inspired percussion.
As a collection, however, La Linda feels fatally frontloaded, and by the closing triptych of No Jueges, A Kiss Goodbye and We, Teicher’s songwriting is so finespun it’s bordering on soporific, and is essentially functioning as particularly sumptuous wallpaper.