Kehlani impresses with her quality and cohesion in latest album, While We Wait

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The artist many have accredited as the savior of modern R&B just recently released her newest album, While We Wait, and while I by no means consider myself an expert of the R&B genre, I can certainly see Kehlani’s glimmering appeal and undeniable quality.

With a mere nine tracks, While We Wait is a compact composition, but stands tall not in its size but in its caliber. The album commences with “Footsteps,” which begins sounding and feeling like footsteps sinking into warms sands on a gleaming beach. The song smoothly transcends into a chill and catchy track, perfectly fitting for the sunny vibes of its opening notes.

The album transitions easily to “Too Deep,” an upbeat, electronic track with, like much of the rest of the album, a very sonically pleasing sound. “Feels” is a similarly beat-oriented track, but with an almost effervescent, ambient, and sweeter feel, both in lyrics and tone.

“Morning Glory” is another catchy track, but introduces a slightly different sound from the previous tracks; it feels more classically R&B, with elements of blues and electronics working soulfully in tandem. The moment I heard it, my body started moving on its own accord, swaying and bopping instinctually to the captivating beat.

While jotting down notes and reactions to each of the songs of While We Wait, one sole word accompanied the song “Nunya:” “slaps.” While “Nunya” isn’t the craziest, most overwhelmingly upbeat song, it’s another simultaneously soothing and catchy track. Like “Morning Glory,” it’s the kind of song that begs to be moved to.

The crooning, soothing vocals heard in “Nunya” carry over to “Nights Like This,” too. But “Nights Like This” is a bit of a departure from the rest of the album. While maintaining sonic cohesion, it is a slowed down track for the album, a little more solemn and earnest than the rest. From its muted opening, the song effortlessly climaxes to a subdued beat drop, paving the way for the rest of the song’s fluidly ethereal sound.

The album flows to “RPG” with an easy transition to a similar toned song. “RPG” is another pensive, mellow song with a smooth sound like that of “Nights Like This.”

Finally, the album effortlessly concludes with “Butterfly” and “Love Language.” I found both songs to have interesting instrumental choices. “Butterfly” carries a distinct sound with a muffled sax or horn backing Kehlani’s fluid vocals. The album’s closer, on the other hand, is supported with a marimba backbone. The unique instrument makes for a unique sound, and the peculiarity worked both for “Love Language” itself and for adherence to the album as a whole.

From my first listen, While We Wait was a plainly commendable body of work despite its concision. Each song provides contrast and divergence, yet the album is impressively homogenous. The balance of sonic cohesion and diversity is no simple feat, but Kehlani did so and made it look easy.

While We Wait is Kehlani’s prime— an album to study to, to dance to, to feel to.

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