Smiling With No Teeth by Genesis Owusu album review by Katie Tychemko for Northern Transmissions

House Anxiety/Ourness

9

Genesis Owusu

Smiling With No Teeth

On a staggering 15-track debut, Genesis Owusu takes listeners through a melodic time warp of funk, soul, hip hop and indie rock on his first full-length album Smiling With No Teeth. On an album that is lyrically dense and sonically bewildering, Owusu tackles his personal struggles of mental health, racism, relationships and growth on the impressive LP that is sure to please many. Full of metaphorical insights and sonic dwellings, the album takes a multi-layered approach that isn’t meant to be understood after just a few spins.

The album includes a wave of 80s nostalgia on “Drown,” where Owusu combines an indie style guitar riff between elements of techno and electronica. He alternates his vocals between Springsteen style raspiness, falsetto choruses and moments of heightened verse, to truly make this song an all encompassing body of work. “Drown” is yet another example of Generation-Z artists continuing to blur the lines of genre norms.

He does this again during “Waitin On Ya,” where listeners are treated to a groovy seductive love song. The track features the support of female backing vocalists and an optimistic horns section to tie the whole thing together.

Owusu continues to pull influence from old school hip hop and r&b on “Don’t Need You” and title track “Smiling With No Teeth.” Rhythmic bass lines and uplifting lyrics prompts listeners to move on “Don’t Need You,” where “Smiling With No Teeth” is lyrically poetic and cryptic with Prince-like vocals and Barry White inspired talking points. The song is soulful yet dark and proves that sad songs don’t need to sound sad. Misery might love company but Owusu makes sure the miserable have a solid soundtrack to accompany their sorrows.

More highlights come from “I Don’t See Colour” and “Whip Cracker” which both address gruesome themes of racism and segregation that have transcended generations to modern day times. Owusu continues his complex approach to songwriting and proves yet again his talents as a lyricist.

The staggering approach Genesis Owusu takes on Smiling With No Teeth is both complicated and confusing which wouldn’t work for many artists. Yet his dynamic approach to music has allowed him to put forth a body of work that is diverse and eclectic yet still cohesive across the board. It shouldn’t work, but it does. The extensive nature of his first full-length album is impressive and thought provoking and ensures a promising future ahead for the young artist.