The rise of Tems has been quick but steady. Every single has been a considerable improvement on the last. By exploring ranging emotions, like yearning on “Mr Rebel”, hurt on “Looku Looku” and full blown confrontation on “Try Me”, she has gathered a dedicated fan base. With For Broken Ears however, she aims to solidify, and in many ways, she succeeds.
With her latest effort, we can find clarity from the EP’s name. It is more than just another a title, it is a clear disclaimer, an exclusion of sorts. Tems’s sound is for a very specific audience. Her audience, love what they hear.
As an alternative R&B record, the EP isn’t very commercial. It is an exploration of the different shades of yearning. On “Interference”, “Ice T” and, “Higher” she yearns for a trusting lover and on “Free Mind”, she pines for peace of mind. On “Damages”, she decides to stop asking for what’s obviously not coming to her and on “The Keys” she finally seems content.
The only problem people outside her “core” fanbase might find problematic is her style of lyricism. It is often times unclear until rapt attention is paid to the sound. For listeners who try out projects to pick a few favourites, the depth in certain tracks may just be lost on them.
She deserves considerable credit for creating this masterpiece. It is in itself, an exploration of minimalism. However, more songwriters offering clarity and perspective to the work would’ve made it even more impressive.
For a random listener, this project will take some patience to enjoy. For a music lover, you need to settle into the magic of the tracks. However, for Tems’s core fans, they’ve gotten a love letter from a queen, their queen.
The project is impressive. There’s an impressive amount of coherence to the EP. It is a message to those who have loved and failed at loving. It might not be yours, might not be the next man’s but it is my EP. I’m convinced so many other broken ears love it.