Tei Shi’s first two albums wore their love of ’80s and ’90s pop and R&B on their sleeves. Shifting from Britney-inflected sugary pop to glittering ballads, the artist born Valerie Teicher synthesized her influences into charming, occasionally experimental pop, delivered on a luminous, breathy soprano. Since an acrimonious split from the former Downtown imprint three years ago, Teicher has entered a phase of reinvention. In 2020 released independently Die 4 Ur Luv EP, leaned into energetic dance songs that occasionally got their wheels spinning. In bad premonition, refine your approach. It’s a solid, if relatively light ensemble, showing all-too-fleeting glimpses of their songwriting and vocal strengths.
The six songs on the new EP zip by, equipped with straightforward hooks built around Teicher’s fluttering vocals. “Grip” is the best, a stylish statement of self-esteem that pulsates with a satisfying charge. “I thought this shit was free and you got me cheap,” she sings. “But he gets ugly when you don’t play fair.” A son Die 4 Ur Luv, many lyrics touch on themes of self-assertion and could double as hits in the music industry. During the downtempo of “Mona Lisa,” one of Teicher’s most enchanting songs to date, resonant keys and curvaceous synths accentuate a forceful message. “You’re so full of shit and you know it,” he sings in a sweet falsetto. In the title track, he ramps up the drama, describing an impending disaster that he feels powerless to stop. She longs to be “in the right place at the right time,” a frustratingly familiar refrain for independent artists that Teicher turns into her own confident pop song.
A few misfires stop power. Pounding synths and clicking syncopated drums flatten “Familiar,” an otherwise atmospheric song about finding an elusive sense of identity. “Bad Premonition” relies on similarly sparse elements (metronomic synth lines, a thumping beat), but becomes too repetitive when its delicate bridge finally removes the clutter. The uniformity undermines Teicher’s strong lyrics and dexterous voice. The restless and bilingual “Quién Te Manda?” it features a Y2K-style bass co-production from Chairlift’s Patrick Wimberly, but closes with an overly long finale that feels like subtraction by addition.
When Teicher deviates from his usual metallic synth palette, bad premonition soars The nostalgic standout “Color” projects breakbeat pop into a torrent of sunlight. “Is it safe on the other side?” he asks in the chorus of the song. “Because I feel like I died / In a ray of, in a ray of light.” Invoking Madonna’s touchstone of the late ’90s as much as the afterlife, Teicher blossoms the idea of being a small part of a larger universe into a radiant song that’s perfectly suited to her feather-light voice. Though his elegant and tasteful pop doesn’t always reach the same highs, “Color” underscores Teicher’s delicately emotive power to induce a rush of longing in an instant.