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Album Review: Tinashe – Aquarius

3 min read

If The Weeknd and Cassie had a baby, then Tinashe is the glittering musical result. The 21 year old starlet seemingly appeared out of nowhere, and somehow she has the entire music industry buzzing. It’s not hard to see why. Her single 2 On went straight to number one on the US Rhythmic Top 40, and peaked at 24 on the Billboard charts. It’s not a bad achievement by the quadruple threat, who went on to release an LP that’s already got everybody talking.

tinashe AquariusAquarius is a truly marvellous debut from Tinashe; she showcases an irresistible blend of downtempo R&B, delivered with a whole lot of charm. It’s a relaxed, chilled form of hip hop; all smooth beats, finger clicking and caressing vocals. In the first track Aquarius serves as the perfect introduction to her hybrid sound. ‘A brand new age has finally begun,’ she croons demurely. ‘Welcome to my world.’ Her vocals are sweet like honey, dripping with seductiveness and charm. Her vocals extend to more than just the quiet whisper though; in Bet, she shows off a hearty belt. Tinashe comes off as completely irresistible, delivering the track with a fierce attitude paired with just the right amount of coyness. Look out for Dev Hynes’ electric guitar outro on the last minute, sending the entire track into a sexy, dreamy haze.

There is a lot of bedroom music in this album – often, you’ll catch yourself swaying to the tinkling synths and moaning backing vocals. How Many Times, which features rapper Future, is one of these. Tinashe murmurs effortlessly in French, universally recognised as language of love. She channels a mixture of Beyoncé and Rihanna here; think sultry vocals and sensual lyrics like ‘how many times can we make love in one night?’ Future’s contribution sounds out of place, however. His out-of-breath barking has no place in Tinashe’s chilled, vibey atmosphere – if anything, he ruins the mood. But not to worry, she makes it up to us with the gem that’s Bated Breath. Tranquil and atmospheric, the resonating pianos and gentle croons take a page out of BANKS’ sound. Tinashe demonstrates fantastic vocal technique, her tentative croons eventually breaking into a mournful wail. Other notables are Far Side of the Moon and Feels Like Vegas; the latter being a serene depiction of Sin City itself. The wintry synths and muted bass are too relaxed for the vibrant nature of Vegas, but Tinashe’s lyrics are spot on. The lyrics paint a picture of bright lights, rough sex and oodles of cash; and in turn we’re living vicariously through Tinashe’s lustful, wild nights. 

It’s not all hazy R&B however; there are times where she likes to get upbeat for an occasion. Take 2 On, her collaboration with rapper ScHoolboy Q. It’s clear why this track was released as the lead single; is a club favourite with its radio friendly beats and addictive hooks. It’s not exactly the rowdiest of songs but it’s still enough for us to ‘get faded, turn’t up.’ Her vocals aren’t powerful but she still exudes control with her nonsense delivery – basically, she’s queen bee and killing it. It’s a similar story with Hands On Deck, a feisty number that warns all of us to take a step back. ‘Kiss the old me goodbye, she’s dead and gone,’ Tinashe laments. Or perhaps lament isn’t the word here – hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, and she’s on the prowl for her new toy-boy. The track is super catchy and has us completely sold, largely thanks Cashmere Cat’s flawless production. The flute whistle is a nice extra touch; the cherry-on-top to what would otherwise be a generic R&B hit.

Aquarius is a standout; an ode to a form of R&B that’s all too often underrated. Tinashe is riveting to listen to – she can go from a husky whisper to a full belt in a matter of seconds, and her charm will have you wrapped around her pinky finger. If you’re looking for something to groove/bang to, then look no further – Aquarius will get you in the mood to do both.