What were you doing when you were 18? Stressing about your high school final exams? Working a shitty summer job that barely paid? Partying it up at university? Trying to get a solid plan for your life in order? Whatever it was, chances are you weren’t making transcendent pop music. But then again, we can’t all be Alfie Templeman.
The British musical wunderkind just recently released his album Forever Isn’t Long Enough, joining the ranks of Billie Eilish and The Kid Laroi in the realm of young artistic overachievers. Just barely old enough to buy his own champagne to celebrate, Templeman has provided a fair amount of exuberant material up to this point, having released a handful of poppy EPs over the past five years. Forever Isn’t Long Enough is just the most recent in a long line of success for the teenaged singer.
The LP is being marketed as a “mini-album”, which is accurate, considering how the run time barely eclipses half an hour. Some might interpret this as being shortchanged, but I take the opposite view. In an age where artists are incentivised to maximize their streaming plays by stuffing their albums to an unnecessary and insufferable length, Templeman simply drops in, plays a few songs, and drops out. It leaves you wanting more instead of impatiently waiting for it to end.
As Forever Isn’t Long Enough continues along its charted course, elements start to get stripped away. ‘Shady’ includes bongos, airport announcements, and a wonderfully dense chorus arrangement, but with each new song, an added piece of the puzzle gets removed, challenging you to focus ever more intently on Templeman’s voice. At first, Templeman didn’t strike me as anything more or less special than, say, Declan McKenna or Twenty One Pilots, two artists who are also exploring densely-layered disco-pop. But as the album’s songs gradually began to get sparser and sparser, the feel-good jams started to have a greater impact as they crept further away from their party-ready starting point.
The album includes a number of lightly-trippy soundscapes, including the funky disco stomp of ‘Film Scene Daydream’ that features some tasty sax work, the R&B infused ‘Wait, I Lied’, and supremely chill shuffle of ‘Everybody’s Gonna Love Somebody’. The highlight of the album, however, is the closing song ‘One More Day’, which is little more than Templeman and duet partner April over a synth pad. In a thematic left turn, ‘One More Day’ abandons the party and goes looking for something more concrete and meaningful, meditating on the pains of unrequited love that finds Templeman at his most vulnerable.
If this is what Templeman is churning out at 18, it will be exciting to see what kind of artist he matures into. Maybe he’ll get more comfortable with experimentation and musical diversity, picking up other genres and adding them to his palate. Maybe he’ll buckle down and attempt to be the best at creating disco R&B funk-pop jams. Who’s to say, but what’s clear is that Templeman has a long and promising career ahead of him, with Forever Isn’t Long Enough setting the table in a wonderfully exciting way.