Album Review: Aquarius – Tinashe

Firstly, let’s give everybody a little reminder. Tinashe is a DIY artist. That means she and her small team organise studio time, video shoots and press alone. So with so many time consuming, non-music related tasks, how did Tinashe manage to write, record and release three critically acclaimed mixtapes far before her debut album was even released?

On Aquarius, Tinashe attempts to blend her self-made style with a slicker, hit-making sound, yet falters in finding her own identity as a commercial artist in a slew of heavily produced tracks.

Starting off the album with the same sultry R&B vibes as in her In Case We Die mixtape, Tinashe stays true to her early sound of delicate sweetness on tracks such as “Aqaurius” and “Cold Sweat,” both full of tight percussion, soft piano keys and some buzzy synths.

Later bits of the album take a more radio-friendly turn, with the light fare serving the listener as a reminder that Tinashe is just 21 years old. Though it doesn’t stand out as a strongly memorable tune, the trap-inspired “All Hands On Deck” combines her pretty harmonies with ferocious attitude, making it a fun jam in the midst of heavy ballads and hip-hop oriented tracks. Although easy to draw comparisons to other female counterparts in the new wave of R&B stunners such as FKA Twigz and Jhene Aiko, the Zimbabwe originated songstress wavers on the verge of mainstream with her weaker tracks “Thug Cry” and second single “Pretend,” featuring A$AP Rocky. These two cuts stand alone in the album as bland, unfeeling choices for Tinashe, featuring boring, passive lyrics and repetitive topics of discussion.

It wouldn’t be an R&B album without some heaters for the bedroom; sounding mature beyond her years in “Feels Like Vegas” and “How Many Times,” featuring Future, these tracks do just that. Unfortunately Future’s verse may kill the mood with his disjointed rapping style, which turns “How Many Times” into an unfortunate, choppy mess.

The 18 track album, including four interludes and an outro, sees production from some of music’s finest including OVO-affiliated producer Boi-1da, along with Mike Will Made It, Evian Christ, Blood Diamonds, and DJ Dahi. We’re crossing our fingers that one of these tracks will get a Ryan Hemsworth or xxyyxx remix, adding even more production cred to the young singer’s resume. Tinashe closes her album by taking us back to her mixtape sounds with “Bated Breath” and “Wildfire” presenting us with her strong vocals, backed by misty cold reverberations.

Aquarius review – 3.9/5
Track to skip: Pretend
Tracks to skip to: Far Side Of The Moon, Cold Sweat, Feels Like Vegas

Words by @HudaFunk


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