Khalid: American Teen

American Teen
RCA Records

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American Teen is 15 tracks  of confessional, resonant, and relatable lyrics. Musically, it’s soulful, open, and honest, ranging from light pop to heavy-hearted R&B, and funky neo-soul. The album opens and closes with birds chirping and bright summer sounds. You can almost feel the sun warming your skin through the speakers. The first track, “American Teen,” is full of ’80s synths and talk of getting faded, extroverted girls, and carefree fun. Khalid’s sweet, but raspy vocals hang in the air proclaiming “We don’t always say what we mean/It’s the lie of an American teen,” a feeling that surely transcends both borders and generations. If you have even the slightest interest in the current R&B scene, you’ll have heard Khalid’s single “Location” on heavy rotation or at least spotted it on some of the most popular playlists. It’s a smooth, vibey track full of longing, and punctuated by stuttering rhythms. A love song for a generation, “Location” really showcases Khalid’s self-reflection and maturity. Like the rest of the album, this song is emotional and full of inner conflict. Above all, this track embodies the youthful tendency to act against your better judgement. “Young, Dumb & Broke” is an ode to naivete. The lyrics seesaw from intoxicated regret and apologies to embracing that same naive spirit for the sake of having fun. Khalid sings “Yeah we’re just young, dumb, and broke, but we still got love to give,” championing the carefree, but never the careless. The aptly titled “8TEEN” is very teenage, chronicling the life of a teen still living with their parents, trying to air out a hot boxed car, and seizing the moment. Musically, it’s fun, dancey, and even a bit optimistic. “Winter” is infectious, contrasting sad lyrics full of resignation (“You were so quick to reject me, so I’ll take my time being sad”)  with glitchy, danceable, and upbeat instrumentals. “Saved” is another smooth number, and one of the catchiest songs on the album. The chorus begins, “I’ll keep your number saved,” and is all too relatable in today’s dating scene where partners, potential partners, and the ones who got away are all only as permanent as their contact info on your smartphone. At only 19 years old, Khalid truly stands out among his contemporaries. In his calm, sweet, and raspy vocals, even Khalid’s most scathing lines sound sweet upon first listen. As an artist he is relatable and deep, but not afraid to sound light, bright, and poppy. With smooth R&B, chilled-out, introspective pop, heart-wrenching ballads, and simple danceable beats, American Teen shows Khalid’s promising range.


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About Samantha Blackwood

Hi, I'm a Canadian human with an undying love for live music and the works of dead writers. I write music reviews, book reviews, random literature related musings, short fiction, and more.
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