I first came across Tinashe when she was starring alongside Charlie Sheen as Jake Harper’s love interest in Two & a Half Men. Although not the most knock-out of actresses, especially in the minor role she had, she did have that something about her, not to mention her 10/10 looks that somehow makes you a star nowadays, regardless of your actual talent. But take it from me, Tinashe is the perfect balance of both integrity and pop-star charm- she’s FKA Twigs meets Rita Ora.
Kicking off with the trippy-come-symphonic title track, followed by the flawless collaboration with Dev, you can already begin to see that this isn’t the structured R&B album you expected it to be. As I’ve detailed in prior reviews, this new wave of minimalist R&B is really making an impact at the moment, it gives artists the opportunity to not necessarily follow the script of the genre. With direct inspirations from the likes of hip-hop, you can’t ever be surprised to see music like Aquarius to bleed into the regions of house and trip-hop.
I’ve never really understood the concept of interludes if I’m honest, and Aquarius seems to feature as many as Doggystyle does. I don’t think I’ll understand the point of them, and let it be said, there’s a lot of them on Aquarius- it gets to the point where you just want them to be a full-length song, so it’s a little frustrating. Beyond this, you can’t fault Tinashe’s ability as a vocalist, she switches up her ‘flows’ from the punches on Feels Like Vegas, to the echoes of effortless choruses that make up Cold Sweat- one of the tracks I felt nodded towards the likes of Disclosure what with the warped synths at the end of the track.
As well as the subtle, intelligent production, notable restraint and utilisation of her vocals, the overall structure and composition of Aquarius is equally as impressive. Guest spots from ASAP Rocky and ScHoolboy Q don’t feel in any way forced or predictable and feel like a match made in heaven when complimented with Tinashe maintaining her distinctive sound. Towards the end of the album we’re met with arguably the highlight of her debut- the Mike Will Made It produced Thug Cry, it gives Tinashe an opportunity to really flex her vocal talent, and yet in the same way stay subtle and less forced/manufactured than other artists out there at the moment. Thug Cry is the best evidence of why Tinashe’s Aquarius is a solid album.
Verdict – WWWV