SZA’s “SOS” Review

New album tops charts


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After five years since her debut album, SZA releases her chart-topping album “SOS.” With 23 songs including four collaborations, SZA has produced a mind-blowing body of work. – Photo taken from Sony Music press release.

After much anticipation, SZA has finally released the album “SOS.” It’s been five years since she released her debut album “Ctrl,” and in that time she has composed a whopping 23 songs. The album has a running time of one hour and roughly eight minutes, so while I would love to comment on the tracklist one-by-one, I’ve decided it would be best if I just go through the highlights.

First things first, the best way to describe this album is genre-defying. SZA raps her way through “Smoking on my Ex Pack,” then puts forth a punk-rock homage to Avril Lavigne in “F2F” and to top it off she sings the ballad “Nobody Gets Me” that teeters between Mazy Star and early Taylor Swift.

SZA has always been seen as unconventional in the way she executes her R&B style. Her voice breaks traditional structure as it is interwoven across the different beats, and the overall sound can be classified as both raspy and psychedelic. This album has only further showed the range of SZA’s talents and proved yet again that she can’t be put in a box.

During SZA’s five-year break, she released many singles and worked with many artists. Connections were made, and four collaborations ended up being featured on the album. First, we have “Used” featuring Don Toliver. It’s not exactly my favorite song on the album or even my favorite collaboration. However, I think it can be agreed that all of the features were well chosen. Toliver and SZA sounded great together.

What was even more surprising was the feature with Phoebe Bridgers. The song “Ghost in the Machine” is ethereal and mind-blowing. Bridgers and SZA are, in my mind, a part of two different groups of artists, but to hear them together was unexpectedly beautiful. Additionally, Travis Scott returned with “Open Arms.” It’s thoroughly heartbreaking, but I can easily see the song being played continuously in the years to come.

The entire album is finished off with a collaboration with none other than late Wu-Tang Clan member Ol’ Dirty Bastard. Snippets of him rapping are featured at the beginning and end of the song “Forgiveless” which closes the album perfectly. To be completely honest, though, I love SZA’s voice all on its own and none of these collaborations blew me away any more than her solo singing does.

Besides the songs mentioned above, there are a couple stand outs that are already living rent free in my mind. “Kill Bill” is catchy but also extremely relatable. The message is a little dark, but that’s only at surface level. This song shows us once again that SZA can take the pain and fear of being alone and craft it into something beautiful. “Too Late” has been running laps in my head with its pop-like chorus, “Far” is the embodiment of self-deterioration after a breakup and “Special” handles body dysmorphia.

Devotion to a loved one is masterfully expressed in “Snooze” while “Notice Me” shows the struggle of catching someone’s attention when you know they don’t deserve it. SZA released four songs prematurely and my favorites were “Shirt” and “Blind.” “Shirt” understandably became a nationwide hit overnight, and “Blind” hit my heart with its impeccable high notes and lyrics.

Ultimately, SZA has delivered a masterful body of work and proven to the world her place in the music industry. This was only her second album, yet she’s already won 25 awards and been certified triple platinum from her debut album. There’s been talk of her retiring, but SZA claimed her career was done after “Ctrl” and we ended up with 23 songs anyways.

Even if she were to retire, SZA has a discography that will influence many as time goes on. “SOS” has received critical acclaim in under one week, and I get the feeling that we’re going to see SZA receive numerous nominations and awards for the groundbreaking album.