SZA is a master of the introspective monologue, turning introspective musings into gilded songs that are at once personal, universal, and unapproachable. Her voice weaves in, over, and through the beats, evoking comparisons to the jazzy structure of Joni Mitchell and the technical prowess of Minnie Riperton, as she narrates these contradictions on her remarkable debut album, CTRL.
CTRL was certified triple platinum this August, reflecting both its continued relevance and fans’ salivatory desperation for a follow-up five years later. This strategy, which deviated from the norm, proved successful. Of course, she’s been busy since then, releasing an album’s worth of material in the form of 16 singles and collaborations,
including the Oscar-nominated Black Panther track “All the Stars,” with Kendrick Lamar, and a handful of wildly acidic videos like “Good Days” and “Shirt.” Her record-breaking cellophane candy “Kiss Me More,” with Doja Cat, dominated the summer of 2021. She’s in the middle of shooting a movie. She misplaced a pair of Crocs. She picked up the skill of playing musical bowls all on her own. Oh my god.
SZA, a former marine biology major, appears on the cover of SOS sitting pensively on a diving board amidst a backdrop of azure water.
She said she was moved to create the piece after seeing a photograph of Princess Diana on Mohamed Al Fayed’s yacht taken a week before her death in 1997 and wanted to pay tribute to the “isolation” it depicted. She goes from feeling like a depressed second-stringer giving up her well-being for garbage men to a powerful, deserving superwoman on SOS.
By bridging the emotional gap between the Bad Bitch and the Sad Girl stereotypes (an old story), she challenges the prevailing view of the millennial generation.
This opening title track establishes a kind of thesis for most of the album: that even amid self-doubt, she’s gloved up, in the ring, a heavyweight champ loving every second of it. The album opens with a Morse code distress call and a sample of the Gabriel Hardeman Delegation’s 1976 gospel exhortation “Until I Found the Lord (My Soul Couldn’t Rest).”
The Sound Of Animals Fighting – Apeshit
Anthony Green had a productive year, releasing an EP with Circa Survive before they went on hiatus, a fantastic new solo album, and a new supergroup called L.S. Dunes.
This has also been a productive year for Rich Balling, who released the debut album of his new hyper-pop project Hospital Gown, which featured a number of notable guests. Despite this, Rich, Anthony, the RX Bandits, and the rest of The Sound of Animals Fighting managed to write and record an EP for the first time in 14 years.
The EP may only be four songs long, but it’s the perfect comeback album: it sounds like a synthesis of the band’s first three albums and perfectly captures the individual and collective growth of each member of the band over the past 14 years.
The title track, which begins with a thunderous drum pattern and transitions into proggy post-hardcore lead guitars before giving way to Anthony’s searing fusion of airy clean-sung vocals and piercing screams, is the closest the band has come to recreating the sound of their groundbreaking debut album, Tiger and the Duke.
It’s not a rehash of their debut, but rather an evolution of their style, and no other band comes close to TSOAF when it comes to this kind of experimental post-hardcore song. After that, on the Rich Balling-sung “Wolf,” TSOAF dive into atmospheric electronic art pop territory; on the intense “Sharon Tate, Despite Everything,
” they switch gears between their heavy side and their psychedelic side; and finally, they wrap things up with more glitchy electronica on “Duche Das.” My only complaint is that it ends much too quickly; I hope it won’t be another 14 years before we hear from them again.
SZA Announces New Album ‘S.O.S.’ Slated For December Release
After a successful debut with “Ctrl” five years ago, R&B singer SZA is now promoting her sophomore studio album. According to a recent interview with Billboard, the new album will be titled S.O.S. and will be released in the month of December.
The upcoming album is said to feature a wide range of musical styles, from her signature lo-fi beats to surf rock sounds, a grunge record, and an “acoustic guitar-driven ballad” among them.
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SZA said that she used to be “more carefree” with her songwriting back in the “Ctrl” era, but that she has since honed her skills, and producer ThankGod4Cody remarked on how quickly she writes songs.
The 33-year-old singer also admitted to Billboard that she is “currently stressed” about meeting the release deadline, adding that she struggles daily with the pressures of being a rising pop star in the music industry, the high expectations of her fans, the five-year gap between albums, and her own priorities.
Known as an alternative R&B artist, soul, hip hop, minimalist R&B, cloud rap, witch house, and chillwave all find a home in SZA’s music. SZA’s songs frequently deal with sexuality, nostalgia, and abandonment, and her lyrics have been described as “unraveling.”