SZA’s new album is a masterpiece

Malika Ali, Contributing Writer

Let’s be real — the past year hasn’t exactly been the best in terms of music. Delayed album releases, canceled tours and other inconveniences that resulted from the pandemic have left us all craving some good musical sustenance.

Personally, I didn’t particularly enjoy any of the albums that were released in 2022 and was left playing the same throwbacks repeatedly. But in December, just when I thought I couldn’t take it anymore, SZA finally dropped her new album. Not only did this give me a dose of the soul-feeding, timeless music I had been craving for so long, but it also reminded me that good music still exists.

“SOS,” which was released five years after SZA’s debut album “CTRL”, was definitely worth the unbearable wait. It is no wonder the album became the longest-running number one female album of 2022 and has topped the charts for eight nonconsecutive weeks. I honestly believe the album deserves even more attention. Even after months, I’m still blasting it daily.

Its success is a result of its exceptional musical and lyrical content. The album encapsulates a whirlwind of emotions. As it progresses, SZA spirals through heartbreak, revenge, resentment and growth. If you’re someone going through the breakup blues or struggling with the plight of being in an “exclusive situationship” (whatever that is), you’ll definitely enjoy this album. 

Personally, I feel like her voice is so soothing and gives me a resonating feeling of peace. Her songs are so melodic and well thought out. If you pay attention to the lyrical content, it literally feels like you’re listening to her intrusive thoughts, which creates a deep connection that is relatable and authentic. If you’ve heard the chorus of ‘Kill Bill’, you definitely know what I mean. I also feel like there are a lot of underrated songs on the album, such as ‘Gone Girl’ and ‘Open Arms,’ that need to be appreciated more for their introspectiveness and mellow vibes.

I’ve found out the hard way that there are some people who don’t agree with my sentiments. I feel like people discovered the term “mid” and just ran with it. The fact that there are people out there who would call an album that is as raw and harmonious as this “mid” is baffling and mind-blowing. People just hear a few seconds of a song on TikTok or the radio and think they’ve got it all figured out.

Before I listened to the full album, I heard a snippet of “F2F,” and I also assumed that it was overplayed and saturated. In actuality, the song is so well-written, and it gives me so much energy. “SOS” isn’t just a bunch of random songs, but rather an intentional work of art. Writing it off without even giving it a chance is truly an injustice. So to anyone who holds this type of opinion on the album, I urge you to give it a full listen.

I’ve also heard people say that because many of the songs follow different genres and themes, it may be a bit difficult for some people to see the unifying element between all of them. In an interview with “Complex Magazine,” SZA responded to recent critiques on the album’s cohesiveness: “If you sound like you, your shit’s going to be cohesive. Period.” Queen energy. 

I really admire her choice to switch between different vibes, rather than trying to fit everything under a singular aesthetic. The inconsistency just makes it all the more perfect. It’s an unconcealed depiction of the rollercoaster of genuine emotions that are not only traveling through her but so many of us listeners.

I will admit that some of the songs are not as perfect as others, but I can confidently say that every song on the album is a lyrical masterpiece fueled by SZA’s genius. So if you haven’t given it a listen yet, I strongly urge that you do. As for its current spot as number one album? Well-deserved.

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