One started to wonder what became of Tei Shi in the two years since the release of Crawl Space.
One started to wonder what became of Tei Shi in the two years since the release of Crawl Space. That LP and the pair of EPs prior introduced the world to a singer who perfectly fit the whisper singer mold, an archetype which eventually topped the Billboard 100 in 2019. Yet unlike her contemporaries, Valerie Teicher practically disappeared, turning up for a brief, shining moment on Blood Orange’s Negro Swan. As it turns out, Teicher, like so many before her, felt stunted by her label and place of residence, New York City.
In response, she crafted a new LP that thematically, and somewhat sonically, went against Crawl Space and reflected the warmth of Los Angeles, her new home. For starters, “Linda” translates to “cute,” a far cry from what one imagines inhabiting a crawl space. And instead of the industrial thump of “Keep Running” or “fightin’ for” love on “Creep,” Teicher embraces a warmer sound and never strains herself for acceptance or romance.
The relative homogeneity of La Linda registers as a bit safe when you consider Teicher’s past ability to experiment. While she’d wail on “Bassically” or the especially thrilling “Crawl,” a track like “Say You Do” demonstrates an ability to sail over dance-pop production. Still, the continual themes of the songs let her lay out the journey she must undertake to free herself of her burdens.
La Linda’s break with noxious characters requires a great effort, however, one taken across the course of its tracks. The brightness of “Addict” belies not only its title but also its naiveté. As her agency takes hold, Teicher realizes she must go it alone on “Alone in the Universe.”
The transition from track one to two highlights the album’s aptitude for bridging tracks together. Though she gives herself over to her vices on “Even If It Hurts,” Teicher soon finds the pain to be too much: “Tu amor me esta matando” (“Your love is killing me”) she cries out on “Matando,” a steel-drummed wonder that thins out into beautiful harmonies in its middle. Those harmonies transition into the dissonant ones of “Twilight,” where she swings back towards her darkness. This darkness could be her old label, it could be a partner; regardless, it pulls her back the way toxic things often do.
But the greatest strength of La Linda, as with all of Tei Shi’s projects, is Teicher’s voice, a sturdy soprano that flits through its melodies like a streamer in the wind. Using it as her guiding force, it carries her out of the Americana sorrow of “When He’s Done” and then lets her speak of his crimes on “Thief.”
Teicher ends up coming out the other side intact and with more confidence than when she started. Speaking to Remezcla, she revealed how the powers that be resisted her singing in Spanish despite her Argentinian background. She retaliates with “No Juegues” (“Do not play”), which grows into a groovy swing that implies a level of comfort and freedom has been breached. Carried by the bossa nova sway of “A Kiss Goodbye,” she freely saunters towards a new beginning, “We.”
The finale is not super memorable until its end, where the repetition of “Another place/ Another time” conjures a fresh, invigorating start for the singer. The honesty and aplomb with which she disclosed her path towards this epiphany leads one to believe her next will be nothing short of remarkable.