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Ctrl

SZA

2017

Ctrl
Album Summary

Ctrl (pronounced "control") is the debut studio album by American singer SZA. It was released on June 9, 2017, on Top Dawg Entertainment and RCA Records. It features guest appearances from Travis Scott, Kendrick Lamar, James Fauntleroy, and Isaiah Rashad. Originally scheduled for release in late 2015, it was delayed by SZA's experience of "a kind of blinding paralysis brought on by anxiety." She reworked the album until her record company took away her hard drive in the spring of 2017.SZA wrote most of the album's lyrics and collaborated with producers including Craig Balmoris, Frank Dukes, Carter Lang, Scum and ThankGod4Cody to achieve its sound. The efforts resulted in a primarily neo-soul and R&B album, with elements of hip-hop, electronic, pop, indie and soul. Lyrically, the album has a confessional theme, which touch upon SZA's personal experiences and complexities of modern love; including desire, competition, jealousy, sexual politics, social media, and low self-esteem. Ctrl was supported by five singles: "Drew Barrymore", "Love Galore", "The Weekend", "Broken Clocks", and "Garden (Say It Like Dat)". Upon release, it received widespread acclaim from music critics, many of whom praised its cohesiveness and production, as well as SZA's vocal delivery. The album debuted at number three on the US Billboard 200, moving 60,000 equivalent-album units in its first week. The album and its songs were nominated for four Grammy Awards, while SZA was nominated for Best New Artist. It was also included in several year-end best music lists by publications. In 2020, the album was ranked at 472 on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time list.A deluxe edition featuring seven new songs was released on June 9, 2022, exactly five years after the original release.

Wikipedia

Rating

2.89

Votes

6928
Genres
Hip Hop
Soul

Reviews

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Wed Feb 09 2022
1

Eh, just modern r&b that seems to celebrate trashiness. Lots of ting ting ting sounds, do u wanna fuck dis pussy n---a, etc etc. Imagine if this ends up getting shot into space for the aliens to hear, haha. 1/5.

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Sun Sep 05 2021
4

A beautiful, messy dive into the mind, life, and relationships of SZA. The album is aptly named, as it touches so many aspects of what control means...what does it mean to be in control? What do you get from it, or what do other people get from having it over you? Is it worth it? So many thoughts and ideas radiate from SZA's confessional record. With the emotional and narrative strength she harbors, the production and music is as equally strong. And there lies a deeper layer of control, to have such a strong presence musically while covering subjects of infidelity, betrayal, the struggles of womanhood and youth...it's so richly done. There's definitely a lot to unpack, and sometimes the album gets lost in certain moments, but it feels like an album that only ages and matures with each listen. The Kendrick feature was a little weak for me, and some sound choices were a little underwhelming, but overall I really enjoy this album. It makes you think. Consider me a fan. Favorite Songs: Prom, 20 Something Least Favorite: Wavy

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Mon Oct 25 2021
4

4.4 + An honest and raw survey of love and sex from the perspective of a young female of color. SZA unbares herself emotionally, and at times it sounds like she's almost ugly-crying while handing me her phone so I can read a text from bae. Despite the rawness of emotion, the songs themselves are sophisticated with interesting chord structures and arrangements. Also, SZA's voice is just delicious. Highlights: "Supermodel", "The Weekend", "20 Something."

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Mon Mar 07 2022
4

NSFW but I did anyway. I liked it more and more as it progresses.

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Mon May 23 2022
4

Genre: Alternative R&B 4/5 One of modern R&B's sweetest and sexiest musical statements, SZA's CTRL is thematically introspective, and musically lush and playful. An album made for women by a woman, it's a project that doesn't speak much to the male experience, but is straightforward and honest enough to be transcendent in its message. SZA's voice is the true highlight here, intermingling with trap/R&B-influenced production throughout with style and grace, and by all accounts almost entirely improvised. Some songs here range from Neo-Soul to Indie Rock, as SZA's influences can be heard from Timbaland to The Police, and it forms a rich palate of sounds for us to feast on as the tracklist progresses. The first half of the album is some of the best R&B the decade has to offer, with Supermodel serving as a flawless, near-psychedelic intro, flowing into Love Galore and Doves in the Wind, the latter featuring one of Kendrick Lamar's best features, which leads into Drew Barrymore and Prom rounding out the first 5 tracks with alt-pop flair and synth hits that would make anyone groove out. The album is interspersed with sweet, loving advice being given to SZA by her mother over the phone, a classic trope that exists throughout R&B and hip-hop, and is a great communicating device to flesh out themes and concepts. Overall, this project excels at being itself, and not shying away from introspection, and providing us with solid tunes full of soul, energy, and passion. A pop-R&B triumph, as far as I'm concerned.

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Wed Sep 15 2021
2

Calming, pleasant grooves...about pussy and booty. Sigh.

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Wed Sep 22 2021
2

Not my bag but wasn't bad I guess. Hard to have an opinion

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Thu Apr 13 2023
1

If you are into gen Z dull productions, one note auto tune music about dicks, pussy and lost panties well this is definitely for you. What is the matter with you?.😀 Go and find some real music to listen to. 0

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Fri Sep 17 2021
5

Absolutely gorgeous Normal Girl and Go Gina supremacy I loved the hints of her grandmother throughout

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Wed Oct 27 2021
5

Have heard this album praised before and this listen was good confirmation of that. Shocked I'd never listened before!

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Fri Dec 10 2021
5

I’m kicking myself for not listening to this sooner!

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Sun Mar 06 2022
5

Rating: 9/10 Bests songs: Love galore, Doves in the wind, Drew Barrymore, Prom, The weekend, Normal girl, Pretty little birds

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Wed Jul 20 2022
5

Great debut by a trendsetter

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Wed Aug 10 2022
5

While Jhene Aiko is more my flavor, I do have a soft spot for 2010s R&B. This album was no exception, with beautiful vocals, production, and features that spice up the projext.

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Mon Sep 12 2022
5

This isn’t a genre I’m very familiar with, and I hadn’t heard any of this before. Loads of talent packed onto this and I enjoyed the personal feel for the stories. I started off thinking this was in the 4 range, but on the second listen the amazing detail in the music and lyrics really struck me and I fell for this. There’s a dreamy quality to the songs that really elevates the album. Fantastic!

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Mon Sep 12 2022
5

Since I am old and the kids' music (anything released after 2000) doesn't tend to appeal to me (or so I think), I did not expect to like this much. What a great surprise! I love SZA's vocal fry and appreciate her P.O.V. I found several of the songs very moving. Maybe the kids are all right. (Ooh, I shouldn't call a woman in her 30s a kid. But, you know what I mean. The youngs. Signed, Gramma.)

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Mon Sep 12 2022
5

I am familiar with a little bit of SZA, but this is a first album listen. I quite appreciated it!

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Thu Sep 29 2022
5

this is the newest album we’ve gotten so far, and you can tell why it was included. amazing production, great features, and sza is an excellent vocalist. very solid 5

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Thu Sep 29 2022
5

I’m a sucker for neosoul, so of course I like this. SZA is great, she’s not my favorite in the genre, but the album is well produced, the lyrics are right, and SZA certainly brings a lot of emotion and energy to all of the tracks

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Fri Sep 30 2022
5

This album is the absolute best, I listened to this album a while before I got it here and it's so good, I don't know what else to say.

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Wed Oct 12 2022
5

A classic album. One of my favorites so far on the list.

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Wed Nov 23 2022
5

For a time, CTRL seemed primed to become The Miseducation of our generation; in that, with one mission statement, SZA had the culture at the palm of her hand, signaling that she was the one in the driving seat (it didn't hurt that her label mate Kendrick was also there, along with a few other passengers...) taking us where we needed to go. The near fifty or so minutes of this masterwork is the epitome of 2017, yet another highmark for Black female musicians offering tantalizing and beyond valuable music that speaks for themselves and for the listeners who will keep flocking to it (and have been) in the present and near future. Bring on the new album... whenever that may be!

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Tue Dec 07 2021
4

SZA has talent and this album is a bop. For me probably not a modern-day classic but that's for the critics to decide, I guess.

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Tue Aug 24 2021
2

Absolutely nothing special about this - nice enough, if you like that sort of thing. I don't. It's just offensive, passive racist rubbish.

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Wed Sep 15 2021
2

This album get's 2 stars for the creative song-writing. The vocals however are terrible. Her voice has so much processing and auto-tune applied that maybe she should just considered song-writing for others. If you want to hear an amazing R&B that came out around the time this one did check out Kali Uchis' Isolation. It should replace CTRL in the book.

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Mon Aug 30 2021
5

Wow! Normalmente este tipo de música no es mi estilo, pero este disco me atrapó desde el inicio.

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Mon Jan 30 2023
5

I have been sleeping on SZA and this album was phenomenal. Shame on me for not listening to more of her stuff sooner!

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Fri Jun 30 2023
5

I probably would’ve given this an 8 but just reading the reviews on this site made me so annoyed I’m bumping up the score. I mean, “Why I can't stay alone just by myself? Wish I was comfortable just with myself but I need you,” almost made me cry this morning. 9/10

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Mon Aug 21 2023
5

Holy shit the racism in the reviews for this album. Some of you people should think twice about the things you think to say when a black woman’s singing.

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Wed Sep 15 2021
4

F$*&. This is what I hate about modern rap and R&B (thanks Dre). The opening track's lyrics are super deep to start and the music accompaniment is great. Her voice is also very good. Raw energy. And then it devolves into f$*&ing your man and how big his dick is. Track 3 doesn't even bother with the pretense - let's just sing about pussy. Again, thanks Dre and other trailblazers. One day I'll really delve into this because I love rock, which is often about sex, drugs, and rock and roll. Perhaps its the bluntness of R&B that gets me, and perhaps rock has more poetic innuendo. Or maybe I'm being unfair to R&B and biased toward rock. BS lyrics and typical tropes aside, there's a lot to like about the album. Drew Barrymore is awesome; real powerful. Prom is a little poppy, but I quite liked it. I kinda knew where The Weekend was going from the opening sleazy/porn beat. Kind of stayed that way for a few tracks - a little more poetry and innuendo than earlier tracks though. All in all, she is a good lyricist, just wish she'd write about deeper stuff more often (like 20 Something). Music, beats, tracks well polished.

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Thu Nov 11 2021
4

Raw, harsh, by turns aggressive and melancholic.

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Fri Nov 19 2021
4

Didn't expect to like it....loved it!

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Mon Nov 29 2021
4

Love Sza’s lyrics, vocals are great, music is good

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Thu Dec 09 2021
4

Pussy juice exploding right in my eyes. It stings a little, but feels wonderful. I mix it with acid and throw it at innocent bystanders in the street. Fuck them.

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Wed Dec 15 2021
4

Bra grejer, musiken lät bra och jag tyckte SZAs meddelande var positivt och välakrivet.

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Sun Jan 23 2022
4

Pop-soul suavecín. No está mal.

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Mon Feb 14 2022
4

J’ai aime le style. R&b hiphop ca sonne biene t c’estplaisant 4

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Wed Feb 23 2022
4

You know what, its all very impressive.

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Wed Mar 09 2022
4

This was very slick - listened twice while working and it's melodic enough in most places that it slips pleasantly into the background - I'd probably get more out of it with a focused listen paying more attention to the lyrics... Fave track - "20 Something", maybe? Or "The Weekend"... ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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Mon Mar 28 2022
4

Synth drums: check R&B elements: check Multilayered productions: check Sexually explicit lyrics: check Big names as guests: check A TikTok single: check A stereotypical "modern music" album. But whether or not you agree that "modern music bad", this particular work is surprisingly well done.

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Thu Jun 09 2022
4

4.5/5. Better than I remember. The first half of the album is amazing. Great songs and great features. I felt that the second half of that album, while it was by no means bad, it lacked in song quality, compared to the first half. Overall, a really good album.

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Sun Jul 24 2022
4

one of the few modern r&b records very good early tracks heavily inspired by frank ocean

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Wed Jul 27 2022
4

This is a great album. You get a sense of who she is from the lyrics, there are some great grooves and production and I remember being wowed by this when it first came out. A true album sonically and conceptually. I didn't give it a higher score because I actually think it's too long. No song is bad, but by the end the songs start to sound similar to me as most of the songs have similar tempos/melody lines etc. So while it's not a super long album, I think it could cut a track or two.

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Mon Aug 08 2022
4

I hadn't heard (or don't recall hearing) anything by this artist before, and I am so glad this project introduced me to her and her work. Such an interesting personal style that combines a variety of sounds and influences. There are enough layers and textures in most of the tracks, along with some nicely composed harmonies and melodies, that my ear stayed engaged for quite a lot of this album. Really good stuff here and I'll definitely listen to it again.

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Wed Aug 10 2022
4

Not my usual vibe at all, but that doesn't mean it didn't get me vibin. Great vocals, a few solid standout tracks, and overall a good time.

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Sun Aug 28 2022
4

Great combo of hip hop beats, and good pop/rock playing. The language is authentic but may turn some people off from this album. She is an amazing talent and more people should know about her.

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Thu Sep 22 2022
4

Awesome album, really enjoyable

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Mon Sep 26 2022
4

Enjoyed the Kendrick feature

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Wed Sep 28 2022
4

This album is bold and sexy but has a vulnerability to it that is surprising. While not something I would listen to regularly and definitely not music aimed at me, SZA creates music that is difficult to ignore. The features are pretty reliable as well. Standout songs are 20 Something and Pretty Little Birds.

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Sun Oct 02 2022
4

The features were the weakest part by far. More SZA, less other people. Best track: Drew Barrymore

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Mon Dec 05 2022
4

SZA’s CTRL has an ethereal nature to it, almost like as if the listener is hearing it through a haze. The music itself exists somewhere between triphop, R&B and neo-soul. Overall, the album is a chronicle of the love life of a twenty something woman of color and seems to wrestle with themes of identity as she is approaching 30. Overall, this album feels like listening to a dream or a memory. None of the individual elements feel groundbreaking, but taken together, this album is unique and engaging.

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Sun Dec 25 2022
4

Decent, but perhaps too long.

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Sun Jan 08 2023
4

Pretty groovy, nice Kendrick guest spot

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Tue Jul 26 2022
4

Nice easy listening. This wasn’t a revelation for me or anything but very good.

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Thu Mar 02 2023
4

such a nice pretty voice and i really appreciate the tight runtime

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Wed Mar 15 2023
4

I was pretty uneasy at the beginning of this album, but it was wonderful at the end. Favorite tracks: Broken Clocks, 20 Something

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Mon Apr 10 2023
4

El mejor álbum de sza perdón

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Wed Apr 12 2023
4

I enjoy the vibe of this record, it's relaxed, and somewhere between stoned and melancholy. The production is nice. It does somewhat just float on by, grabbing your attention every once in a while, but it's a nice way to float, I guess. Favorite tracks: "Doves In The Wind", "Broken Clocks"

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Fri Apr 14 2023
4

One of the most lush, tight albums in modern r&b. There is no doubting how SZA broke through and connected with so many people. I cannot think of any filler on this, just excellent song after excellent song. SZA is dialed in and delivering on every song, every verse, every note.

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Sun Apr 16 2023
4

Best Song: Pretty Little Birds. SZA is at her best here, and Isaiah Rashad provides the best feature on the album. Worst Song: Drew Barrymore. Just felt like way too basic of a song, especially after all the spice that came from the previous track with Kendrick saying "pussy" forty times. Overall: When it's good, it's good. Sexy, spirited. The non-musical asides are great too. There are a few weaker tracks near the middle, but otherwise a great album.

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Thu Apr 20 2023
4

This is going to age like a fine wine. Even the songs about fucking are subversive. Near perfect record.

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Wed Apr 26 2023
4

Great voice, personal lyrics, and interesting production. This was quite good.

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Wed May 10 2023
4

That was.... Good. Surprisingly good. If you gave me a 1 sentence description of the album before hand I would have immediately written it off. But wow. Great backing tracks. Peaceful but complex in parts. Vocals just on the right side of the line between annoying and modern. I'm learning from this 1001 albums that there are some great rnb/hiphop albums few and far between all the terrible ones.

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Mon May 29 2023
4

Lækker rnb, hiphop, fede features, tematisk

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Thu Jun 08 2023
4

Sexy. Ended up listening to this a few times.

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Thu Jun 08 2023
4

Good stuff - already re-listened.

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Thu Jun 08 2023
4

It's good. The music is solid, though never blindingly brilliant, and the songs are lyrically brilliant. Taking a cue from D'Angelo or that other guy, they're all sex jams, but with the unflinching emotional honesty of Mary J Blige. The contrast is brilliant, and gets you right in the guts.

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Thu Jun 08 2023
4

Solid album. A chill mix of r&b, hip-hop, and synthpop. Just get Travis Scott out of there.

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Fri Jun 30 2023
4

I really like the vibe on the first track Supermodel. Doves In The Wind is a little...simplistic? Not my thing. Music video is tight. Normal Girl is good. in fact the last 3 songs are killer.

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Wed Jul 05 2023
4

This is super rad and I can't wait to listen to it a bunch more. Think I'd been conflating her with HER but I like SZA's style much more.

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Fri Jul 07 2023
4

Liked this one - need to listen again.

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Wed Jul 26 2023
4

Ganske kult, kvinnelige Frank ocean-vibber

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Fri Jul 28 2023
4

SZA is an exciting case by having songs in the exact line between hip-hop and R&B. Combing this mix with her fantastic voice creates a great album. Quite repetitive but still great. Also a great cover by the way.

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Mon Jul 31 2023
4

My last* album, very nice. I see why SZA is now in so many peoples top artists. *there are like 100 more after 1001.

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Wed Aug 02 2023
4

Despite its ironic name, this album was great. Ctrl is really about control, rather it’s more about the deep expression of emotion, which this album conveys perfectly. SZA’s lyric writing is truly phenomenal, truly being able to convey the emotion that’s intended with these lyrics. While these lyrics may not, at first glance, seem the deepest (especially that one track with Kendrick Lamar), when combined with SZA’s excellent singing, conveys the negative emotions she feels. It truly hits you when she sings about her self doubt about love. It’s truly fantastic. The tracks Garden (Say It Like Dat) and Drew Barrymore stand out to me lyrically, with the former discussing her self doubt about if her partner would love her for who she is and the latter being about loneliness and her inability to truly connect with others. Not only do these songs hit on an emotional level, these songs sound good. SZA is a great vocalist who really makes this album for me. The lyrics and her vocals are what makes this album such a great one. However, the neo soul sound that is being gone for with this album is great. Neo soul in general is a fantastic genre and I think this album really proves that. The hip hop and pop inspired production really gives this album an enjoyable sound. However, there are a few hints of indie pop sprinkled throughout the album that really adds to the sound. It’s so relaxing and nice to listen to. I could, honest to God, listen to this album forever and I don’t think I’d get tired of it. This album is really good. I can’t sing it’s praises enough. The sound and emotions of this album are really something special. I’m really thinking a solid 9/10 would be a good rating for this.

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Thu Aug 03 2023
4

Never really listened to this. I’m excited to try it out. So far, really like the production! Those opening guitar chords on Supermodel sound so good. And when the drums come in! Normal Girl is a surprisingly good too. Love the lyrics, and that guitar solo at the end... cool how it just drops off. Sax on Pretty Little Birds also nice! Solid 4/5. Maybe even 4.4. Just gotta leave some room for 5s.

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Fri Aug 11 2023
4

all the white dudes who seem so upset that this album talks about sex should probably re-evaluate their feelings for AC/DC and aerosmith and RHCP and all the other middling bands that primarily sing about fucking

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Tue Aug 22 2023
4

Très franchement sympa, même si on se demande pourquoi cet album et pas n'importe quel autre.

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