Album Review: Aquarius by Tinashe

Mario M.
3 Min Read

Tinashe is releasing her first album since signing with RCA Records next week, on October 7.

The R&B singer and songwriter began to see popularity thanks to a series of acclaimed mixtapes released independently between 2012 and 2013, showcasing her abilities as a writer and producer and allowing her to gain buzz, which in turn led to a major label contract.

Aquarius (this is the title of her LP) invites its listeners to her world: at the end of the title-track, which opens the album, Tinashe welcomes us into this atmospheric world where the sounds are, at times, echoed as if they were filtered by the water of an aquarius and her soft vocals are gently mixed with the ethereal productions. At times even when the melodies are not prominent, Tinashe plays with them to create a noticeable arranegement in the songs (the pre-chorus on “Cold Sweat” is an example).

The interludes are wisely used to bridge the tracks and create a sense of cohesion: the transition between the beautifully dark and moody “Cold Sweat” and the lead single “2 On” (which has been setting radio and the clubs on fire for the past 2 months at least) is less jarring thanks to a very brief spoken track. Similarly, the second single “Pretend” (featuring A$AP Rocky) is introduced by the reflective “What Is There to Lose” interlude which anticipates its subject matter.

Tinashe has cited Janet Jackson as an influence on her work and interludes are not the only thing she’s drawn from her. “How Many Times” starts with the iconic French monologue from Miss Jackson’s “Funny How Time Flies (When You’re Having Fun)” and its chords are sampled throughout the track, which is one of the album’s best moments (we’ll pretend Future’s yodels were left off of it).

Going further through the album, “All Hands on Deck” captures our attention for the Crunk-ish synths kicking in during the chorus; “Feels Like Vegas,” produced by Stargate, recalls the 2011 all-star hit “I’m On One” by DJ Khaled; something about her delivery on the Mike WiLL Made It-produced “Thug Cry” is reminiscent of Britney Spears circa 2003, even though the lyrical content is not that of your typical bubblegum Pop star. Bringing out the feelings of a thug is, in fact, more in Drake’s lane than Britney Spears’. “Wildifire” is, lastly, the best Timbaland production Timbo hasn’t made since 2006.

The album is overall a solid effort. It’s interesting and it’s balanced in its mix of commercial tendencies and artistic showcase. Tinashe is someone who could really make a name for herself in the R&B world and the industry in general, provided that her work continues to be strong.





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