Aquarius (to be released Oct. 7, 2014)
The trippy fusion of soul and pop is probably the hottest sound in R&B right now. Just ask Jhene Aiko, The Weeknd and the rest of their brooding friends.
But first, welcome Tinashe Kachingwe to the party.
Tinashe originally turned heads with her Black Water mixtape and, more recently, the mainstream success of her single “2 On.” Her major label debut Aquarius, tries to cater to both her original audience and more recent fans, resulting in an ambitious but slightly uneven project.
The whispery title track warns of “the dawn of a new era” – the haunting undertones set the stage for Tinashe’s atmospheric journey. Tinashe’s vocals ripple over keys like waves in puddle on “Bated Breath” and mesh perfectly with the moaning and stuttering backdrop of “Bet.” Tinashe voice leaps from sensual to commanding surprisingly easy, which helps the tracks from becoming too bland and indistinguishable.
Tinashe’s influences are clear – she conjures memories of late-era Aaliyah on “Cold Sweat,” thanks to Boi-1da’s dark production. Later, she channels Brandy circa Afrodisiac on “Far Side of the Moon.” And “How Many Times” sounds like the play cousin of Al B Sure’s “Night and Day,” that is, until Future absolutely ruins the track with his terrible Tourette’s syndrome flow.
Can somebody hook your boy up with a version that excludes Future’s trash rap? Please and thank you.
The Future flaws are indicative of Aquarius‘ shortcomings – it’s a fantastic album when it differentiates itself from the norm, but stumbles when it tries to cater to current radio trends. Current single “Pretend” is a bit too repetitive and drowsy, and while “Feels Like Vegas” ramps up the energy, it also relies too much on its repetitive hook. Trust me, it gets old quick. And “All Hands on Deck” uses the same sparse track/finger snap combo that pretty much every song on urban radio employs. It could just as easily be a Tyga or Migos song. It lacks Tinashe’s signature touch.
Aquarius is a solid debut brimming with promise, although a couple of rookie mistakes keep it from reaching the next level.
No worries, though. This is just the beginning for Tinashe.
Best tracks: “Cold Sweat,” “Far Side of the Moon,” “2 On”
3.5 stars out of 5