Fireboy DML’s debut album has been anticipated since his breakthrough single ‘Jealous’ crept up on us subtly and became an earworm. His silky voice, deliberate wordplay and swain’s strophe makes him that chap that could divest a woman’s underpants while earning a man’s respect at the same time.
Despite his irresistible charm, ability to relocate metaphors within local languages, indulge in self-praise and elevate spur-of-the-moment promises to tentative orgasms, Fireboy has got “older brothers”.
He had to push his album release by one week to let Davido’s “A Good Time” sail through. But the November album release which often becomes a slush pile was too exciting for a self-assured youth like Fireboy whose craft evidently goes before him to resist.
By calling his album, Laughter, Tears and Goosebumps, he situates himself within his comfort zone, where heterosexual love reigns supreme. The natural history of affection follows a different sequencing but with LTG, Fireboy only highlights certain aspects of a relationship’s cycle.
On the opening track, ‘Need You’ he drops a quatrain that shows intricate songwriting that we haven’t had since Paul Play Dairo. But what makes Fireboy accessible is how he could be funny when he says, “I miss you like an idiot misses the point” and how he still brings the rhyme full-circle with that earthy and foodie metaphor of “eko and moin-moin”.
There is that rough varnish to his songs as if it has not been weaned off that cabaret edge and acoustic bareness. It is easy to see Fireboy holding down a mic hoisted on a mic stand and singing out his soul to a love-interest in some kind of prequel to a mating dance.
He switches up the tempo freely to the mating dance as the mood requires. ‘Vibration’ is tuned for the shuffling feet as much as ‘Scatter’ is. Every so often, old numbers like ‘Jealous’ and ‘King’ are thrown in for good measure to make the album a wholistic experience of love and serenade. We make it through to laughter rather quickly, but goosebumps can be envisioned as visceral premonitions towards orgiastic pleasures but tears seem elusive.
But if the album fails to deliver on the scope of its title, the music cannot be faulted. It celebrates the early hours of a blossoming affection. Boy meets girl, is boastful, leaves a good account of himself, gets a good dance, boasts some more and eventually gets rewarded. ‘Gbas Gbos’ which should have been called Low Waist, hints at the onomatopoeic pugilism that calls up graphic sexual positions.
‘King’ sits on the precarious fulcrum of that plot around a love story but there is hardly agency from the other participant. Simply put, LTG is a one-sided account of how short-lived affection is executed or exploited. Soon enough, the scope of the album wanders in the direction of both existential and creative angst.
Fireboy DML’s Laughter, Tears and Goosebumps is both an ear candy and worthy testament of what is to come and the point cannot be made enough that a new guard is rising on the cusp of a new decade and the baton has inadvertently been passed on to new cats.