Album Notes - Genesis Owusu - Smiling with No Teeth

Album Notes - Genesis Owusu - Smiling with No Teeth

May 13, 2021

Tantamount to the old mountain weather forecast of, "If you don't like it, just wait five minutes," Smiling with No Teeth is an album whose songs could easily be rearranged to curate the intended audience's maximum chance of enjoyment. There might not be something here for everyone, but damned if it isn't close.

The debut from Genesis Owusu, the Ghana-born, Australia-raised Kofi Owusu-Ansah, at times sounds like everything from 80s new wave to Pharrell Williams to Unknown Mortal Orchestra doing a Lizzo cover. The easiest summation is to draw a direct line of descendancy through the Prince and André 3000 tree of stylistically boundless zero fucks given. Backed by drums, bass, guitar, and keys, the 23-year-old singer/rapper announces himself as a songwriter and performer on a record that nimbly bounces from genre to genre, Owusu unafraid to explore and eager to make each his own.

The music itself might inhibit or encourage repeated plays, depending on song and listener, but an acknowledgment of Owusu's ambition is a prerequisite to appreciation. Even on tracks that initially come across as abrasive, a curious, captivating quality holds allure. While Owusu weaves lyrically dark narratives, an uplifting feeling lingers when the 15-track LP concludes. If you don't like it the first time through, try again later. The sky appears to be the limit for this artist and somehow, there couldn't be a more apt title than Smiling with No Teeth.