Album Review


The drought may be over, but SZA left no crumbs.

To survive the five-year long SZA album drought was a test of faith, but her fans’ loyalty didn’t waver. The 67-minute runtime of ‘SOS’ allows it to cover a lot of ground - from contemporary R&B and hip hop to punky pop rock and big radio-friendly bangers - and at times it even transgresses - not too far, mind - from her staple sound. Its content is not dissimilar to previous releases: SZA soundtracks the rocky terrain of break-up grief - denial, anger, depression, bargaining, acceptance - to make it survivable. But even at its most vulnerable moments - the resentful ‘Special’, lonely ‘Nobody Gets Me’ and pleading ‘Too Late’ are heart-wrenching - SZA remains self-assured. By toe-dipping into various influences, ‘SOS’ is like a greatest hits collection: there are whispers of 2017 debut album ‘Ctrl’ on ‘Blind’ and ‘Special’ and the spiritual sisters of ‘Drew Barrymore’; later, hip hop numbers ‘Conceited’ and ‘Notice Me’ (which sound referential to DJ Khaled’s R&B pop); meanwhile, the brilliantly cathartic early-‘00s pop-rock of ‘F2F’, which unravels post-break-up love/hate chaos, and near-experimental sci-fi of ‘Ghost in the Machine’ a commentary on the terminally online (with a guest spot from Phoebe Bridgers, no less) sound stripped from an alternate universe pop-punk record. And its unforgettable singles - those drip-fed over the years to satiate fans, including the sparkling ‘Good Days’ and the low-fi ‘I Hate U’ - ‘make the project - as she recently promised herself - “a little bit of everything.” The drought may be over, but SZA left no crumbs.

Tags: SZA, Reviews, Album Reviews

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