Prepare for the R&B world to change because 21 year-old singer and songwriter Tinashe Kachingwe, better known as simply Tinashe, proved she is here to stay on her stellar debut album Aquarius. Her Rihanna-esque vocals combined with big-name producers like DJ Mustard and Mike WiLL Made It allow her talent to truly shine. The music world was expecting a polished project, especially since Tinashe’s older mixtapes sounded promising, but Tinashe exceeds all expectations. The infectious lead single, “2 On” wowed critics and fans and the rest of her album certainly does not disappoint. The meticulous fusion of alternative R&B and hip-hop creates for a hypnotizing sound and an intense listening experience. She experiments with alternative sounds without losing consistency. It’s different, but current and it feels so right. Read on for a track-by-track review of Aquarius.
“Aquarius”: Tinashe introduces her breathy falsetto and seductive sound in the lead track. It’s easy to get lost in the many layers of the song, but it’s not the best representation of her vocal ability. “Welcome to my world,” she coos as she prepares listeners for what’s to come.
“Bet” ft. Devonte Hynes: It’s almost impossible to ignore her vocal similarity to Rihanna in this hauntingly beautiful track. Her alluring aesthetic and electronic base is most definitely Drake-inspired, but the most notable part of this song are the lyrics. “Imma be around forever, always. You can bet on it.” This may be her debut album, but Tinashe is anything but a rookie and she plans to be around for a long time. Devonte Hynes provides a striking guitar outro, wrapping up the song with an addicting sound. The production is top-notch, and this is certainly a standout track.
“Cold Sweat”: Switching between airy vocals and casual rapping, Tinashe showcases her vocal versatility in this track. “This pressure ain’t for everybody,” she sings, expressing the downsides of fame. She goes into her beautiful upper register in order to provide a memorable outro sprinkled with ambient noise.
“2 On” ft. ScHoolboy Q: Played on dance floors across the nation, this catchy dance club anthem launched Tinashe’s name into the R&B world. However, the song isn’t consistent with the rest of the album’s smooth, mystical sound. “2 On” is definitely for the general public, but the best songs on the album have a lot more depth than this club banger.
“How Many Times” ft. Future: Tinashe slows down her pace in this sensual track, which sounds like it was made specifically for lovemaking. French whispers and minimalist beats play behind her smooth vocals. The song takes a strange turn when Future comes in with a choppy rap verse, but Tinashe is able to pick it back up and finish with a strong ending.
“What Is There to Lose (Interlude)”: “What is reality? What is the truth if truth is subjective? In a world so overcome with hatred and greed, what is there to lose? In love.” This short interlude poses some big questions and its mystical production creates an intense trance-like aesthetic.
“Pretend” ft. A$AP Rocky: Aquarius’ second single does not disappoint as Tinashe laments about a broken relationship. Her deep vocals combined with Detail’s flawless production give this track a leg up over most recent emotional ballads. Everybody can relate to the lyrics and the catchy chorus borders on addicting. A$AP Rocky makes a strong appearance, rapping about his sexual abilities.
“All Hands on Deck”: The heavy bassline and breezy flute on this track are unique, but the song’s lack of growth and over-repetition are hard to get past. It’s worth a listen, but there’s something missing from Cashmere Cat’s instrumental.
“Indigo Child (Interlude)”: Beyonce’s “Ghost” meets Britney Spears’ “Toxic”. This haunting interlude’s abstract sounds create a gripping experience. Tinashe presents herself as a beacon of light and serves the best interlude of the album.
“Far Side of the Moon”: A hopeless Tinashe contemplates what it would be like to fix her relationship before ultimately deciding to walk away. The verses overshadow the chorus, in which her voice sounds a little too whiney and mopey.
“Feels Like Vegas”: Just when the album almost reaches a dangerous lull, this addictive club banger saves the day. This track has extreme potential to be a massive club hit and its alluring bass proves why Stargate is a successful production duo.
“Thug Cry”: The songstress showcases her impressive rap-singing in this fleshy bop. Ashanti’s influence is undeniable and while “Thug Cry” is catchy, it’s one of the more forgettable tunes on the album.
“Deep in the Night (Interlude)” : This mysterious interlude features an innocent young girl singing with a live piano. Sounding like an old recital, the brief clip provides a good introduction for “Bated Breath.”
“Bated Breath”: In arguably one of her best vocals on the album, Tinashe laments about a tumultuous love. The gradual build up of the edgy piano is reminiscent of Coldplay’s Mylo Xyloto. The tension between the instrumental and her vocals mirror her problems with love.
“Wildfire”: Concluding her lethal romance, the singer supplies a crisp final record. The hint of grainy bass combines surprisingly well with her airy falsetto.
“The Storm (Outro)”: Alluding to the album title, Tinashe supplies one last interlude, featuring storm sounds rumbling over a quiet piano. A mysterious and solid ending to a fantastic debut album.
You can find Aquarius on iTunes or stream it on Spotify.