Review: Tinashe – Aquarius

Reggie Myers

With the access of a wide array of music that’s available today, only a small minority of artists are going to be able to cut through the cluttered landscape to get their chance to make it big. And Tinashe is taking full advantage of her chance with her debut album, Aquarius.

The singer, who was born Tinashe Jorgenseon Kachingwe, is not new to the entertainment industry. She has been acting since the early 2000s. However, she only recently made her splash into the music scene as a solo artist. It started with two mixtapes in 2012 titled In Case We Die and Reverie, which helped her gain favor with critics and fans alike. The streak continued when she released Black Water in 2013, so everyone had high expectations for Aquarius when it was slated to drop this year.

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The album is a solid body of work. While it takes some artists multiple albums to find their sound, Tinashe shows listeners that she knows what works for her and uses this to play up her strengths as she sings about the ups and down of love and her road to success.

Aside from the infectious club hit ‘2 On’ featuring Schoolboy Q, the album has several potential hits. ‘Cold Sweat’ utilizes a seductive beat that perfectly complements Tinashe’s airy vocals as she talks about the pressures and stress of stardom. ‘Pretend’, the second single featuring A$AP Rocky, about her running back to a guy she knows isn’t good for her just for the sex. The sexual tension and Tinashe’s contemplation about how to handle it permeates everything from the lyrics to the melody. Similarly, ‘How Many Times’, which samples Janet Jackson’s ‘Funny How Time Flies’, finds Tinashe asking her lover how many times they can make love in one night. The seductive vibe with the danceable beat make it a versatile song that can be enjoyed both on the dancefloor or in the bedroom.

Other standout tracks included the pensive ‘Bated Breath’, ‘Feels Like Vegas’, ‘Far Side of the Moon’, and the Dev Hynes’s assisted ‘Bet’.

The album is not without a misstep, however. Too many albums tend have a filler song or songs that are about recovering from a breakup by partying that sounds overdone and uninspired. This song falls into the same trap. Not only do the lyrics sound like they could have been lifted from any number of songs that were released last decade, but the song is an unnecessary and shallow interruption from an authentic, vulnerable, and well-crafted project. Side Note for Artists: If you find yourself saying the phrase ‘like that’ more than three times in your chorus, then for your own sake, please run (don’t walk) back to the drawing board.

In conclusion, Aquarius is a testament to how Tinashe has been able to garner praise from music critics and fans. Tinashe has proven to be an artist who knows how to craft an album with multiple writing and production credits, and she uses this self knowledge to carefully create a project with melodies you can’t help but feel and move to as well as relatable lyrics. If this album is  to serve as any indication, then folks can expect to hear the name Tinashe for many years to come.

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On Repeat: ‘Bet’, ‘Cold Sweat’, ‘2 On’, ‘Pretend’, ‘How Many Times’, ‘Bated Breath’, ‘Feels Like Vegas’

About Reggie Myers

Reggie Myers is a writer and communications professional living in Philadelphia, Pa., where he graduated from Temple University. Music, television, film, books, video games, politics, and human sexuality are just a few of the many things that make him tick. When he's not working behind a computer screen, you can find him looking for new adventures, practicing photography, scheming ways to get to the front row of a concert, or scouring the corners of the internet for new music to put his friends on to. @reggieakil