Tinashe’s new video, released alongside the the new album Nightride, begins with her statement, “I’m so sick of appeasing people”. In a video which transitions from hands manipulating her face and her shouting trapped in plastic to her finally dancing unrestrained and alone, her message is very clear: she’s reclaiming control of her creativity, art, and style. Nightride proves that this is more than just words.
While Aquarius was successful, as someone who’s been a fan of Tinashe since her mixtape In Case We Die I found it disappointing. I missed the creative freedom and unique sounds of Reverie and Black Water. And the only track which still holds up for me on Aquarius is “Cold Sweat”. Every other track I’d think of listening to has already been remixed into a superior version.
Yet the exact reason why I was disappointed with Aquarius is why I’m so excited with Nightride. It’s a clear return to the mixtape era where she had creative independence and pursued her personal vision. The opening track “Lucid Dreaming” declares her independence singing “If it’s my life, ain’t nobody gonna tell me how to live it”.
Despite my excitement for this project, I did still have issues with Nightride. I wished the album had a greater sense of unity. While most of the songs deal with relationships, the organisation seems a bit all over the place. “Sacrifices”, all about falling in love unexpectedly and accidentally, is followed by “Company”, an anthem for NSA hook-ups. She seasonally jumps from summer in “Sunburn” to winter in “Soul Glitch”. And apart from “High Speed Chase (Interlude)”, the interludes feel pointless musically.
Then there are the lyrics of “Touch Pass”, which in an album filled with affirmations of her own independence and the power of her own will, seem not only out of place, but socially problematic. Any song with the the hook “Don’t ask, just do” isn’t doing any good for changing the way people think about consent. I might have less of an issue with the lyrics if “Touch Pass” weren’t so catchy. The beat channels millennial Janet Jackson’s Discipline in the best way possible, and for that reason, it’s one of tracks I’ve listened to the most since the release.
Amidst some of the other tracks’ slightly generic lyrics, “Sunburn”, one of my other top picks, stands out as lyrically thought-out and multi-layered. It takes a hard look at the optimistic cliché “look on the bright side” and flips the idiom “there’s no rose without a thorn”. It shows the harm from being overly positive and being blinded by the reality of a situation, or in this case, a relationship. Its style is practically the opposite of “Touch Pass” preferring a slow burn and dark vibes over an addictively danceable beat. The album covers all the bases, ranging from slow and sultry to upbeat and pop.
The Nightride version of “Party Favors” is another highlight. Still sporting the brilliant hook and being just as catchy as the original, Tinashe replaces the Young Thug rap with a soft beat-switch which relies on her own vocals. This successful change reaffirms a point Nightride as a whole repeatedly proves: Tinashe is at her best when she’s in control.