SZA STEALS THE SHOW WITH "SOS"
By Lily Wheadon
On December 9, R&B singer SZA (née Solána Imani Rowe) released her sophomore studio album, SOS. This album was long-awaited after her 2017 hit album Ctrl received ample acclaim. SOS has a more mature sound than most of the hits off Ctrl, but it still stays true to SZA’s style and pays homage to modern relationships.
Some of SZA’s most popular singles from the last few years made appearances on SOS. There is no doubt that the sporadic release of the album’s singles (such as Good Days and I Hate U) over the last 2 years has built up much anticipation for the full-length album.
Some might make the argument that a “good” album is not one where most everything sounds similar, but SZA knows what type of music she can make exceptionally well and sticks to it. The more distinct and experimental tracks still highlight her heavenly vocals.
Another noteworthy component of the album were the features. While most of the artists who sang a verse on SOS were rappers, Ghost in the Machine featured indie artist Phoebe Bridgers. A ghost has become a symbol for Bridgers and her fans to use; Bridgers’ debut album Stranger in the Alps (also released in 2017) features a ghost on the cover art and it has been associated with Bridgers ever since. In Ghost in the Machine, some of the instruments sound similar to ones Bridgers has used in her songs, but it is still definitely an R&B track. Bridgers’ harmonies on the song add somewhat of an alternative edge to the song, but it was interesting to see a blending of genres that do not often go together. The track was able to integrate the two voices beautifully, and it was one of the best tracks on the album. Another song that stood out was F2F, as it combined elements of pop rock with SZA’s traditional R&B style.
The album explores many of the confusions and complexities of modern relationships, accomplishing this through both sarcasm and sincerity. In Kill Bill, SZA cleverly leans into the “crazy ex-girlfriend” stereotype, and in doing so creates one of the catchiest songs on the album. On a more serious note, she gets real about the struggles of comparing yourself to others and losing yourself in a relationship in Special. One of my favorite lyrics from the album comes off of this song: “Hate how you look at her ‘cause you never saw me/ Like I was an art piece, like I was an ordinary girl.”
The album takes listeners through the highs and lows of modern love, creating a masterful and cohesive album that could define our generation for years to come.