Album Review: Aquarius by Tinashe

If you’re looking for mid-tempo, slowed down music, with a 90’s r&b influence and smooth harmonies, then Tinashe’s debut album pretty much sums that up. Nothing is overly done or out of place, Aquarius provides a relaxing atmosphere when in your comfort zone, just as much as it can be a club favorite. The title track signifies the direction in which the singer is headed, kicking things off on a slow and sensual note. It also showcases her ranges more than her promotional singles did, but there’s a steady flow where her vocals are like honey and well-controlled. Great production and song lyrics. Sounds like musical poetry. 

BET didn’t impact me the way the opening song did, but it’s still a laid back track you can groove to, and I’m still getting used to the featured appearance of Dev Hynes. 

While the previous isn’t a favorite, it matches the position held by COLD SWEAT because both are enjoyable songs. Cold Sweat is sexy and still in the slow tempo vibe. By this time I have the mentality not to expect anything dance-like. Whatever the case, the songs are pretty easy to listen to and catchy. 

I’ve never been a fan of interludes because I feel like they take up space where an actual song could have been, but if done right, I don’t mind. And I don’t mind NIGHTFALL. After all, it’s a great intro to one of my favorite club bangers, 2 ON. What else can I say about 2 On that hasn’t been said already? It’s a DJ Mustard produced track with an addictive beat, cool dance moves, and a fun, party feel. This song is stuck with me and will continue to be for the longest time. Once you hear it you can’t go through the day without the hook creeping  up on you.

For some reason, I’m not feeling anything that Future is featured on of late. HOW MANY TIMES is no different. While I can tolerate the track, it’s old school r&b vibe, and the milkiness of Tinashe’s voice, I would get a bleh sensation whenever Future’s voice came in. He tainted the experience for me that sadly will keep me from putting this one on repeat. 

Tinashe has given me a new found love for interludes. Her’s are off the hook. WHAT IS THERE TO LOSE? is one of the interludes that I playback as much as a song. I love the spoken word poetry concept and how insightful her words are. It sets a terrific atmosphere that transitions into my second favorite track on the album. PRETEND is one of the more upbeat songs with a sweet and addictive hook. ASAP Rocky has great rap verse too. I’m loving this song and lyrics. Awesome composition.

ALL HANDS ON DECK depicts the singer’s bad girl side. It shows just how playful and sexy she can be, and I love how the music stays upbeat–following up to that of the previous track–it compliments the fun concept of the song. All Hands on Deck is great for the club, and is a solid production that could stand its own as a promotional single the way 2 On did. Both tracks have similar strength.

Whoa! The vocal effects had me thrown for a minute there in INDIGO CHILD interlude, but once the singer came in I got it. Love the arrangement; the soft keys running alongside the heavy bass. This is a rocking intro that gives way to the edgy number, FAR SIDE OF THE MOON. Tinashe sings about her frustrations in the relationship and considers leaving, but at the same time she’s wondering if she’s making a mistake and that it could work. Love the line in the chorus, “running from my heart…” it emphasizes the purpose of the song and how relatable the lyrics are. I’m addicted to the beat, especially how it continues to play at the end without vocals.

THE CALM is an interlude without words, but it creates this sensual atmosphere that’s relevant for the track it leads into: FEELS LIKE VEGAS. The singer smooths things down again with this mid-tempo, groovy track. Love her hook, and those adlibs in the background are well controlled. Feels Like Vegas is another favorite of mine. I can’t get enough of this track. Sadly, THUG CRY didn’t tug at my heart the way the previous did. The song does have some great harmonies and showcases more old school influence than the others, but I just haven’t warmed up to it as yet. Maybe after another five or so listens.

Oh my gosh. DEEP IN THE NIGHT is the best interlude on the album. Those piano strings are absolutely breathtaking, and those vocals of what sounds like the artist at a young age are beautiful. It’s a pleasant intro to a sensational ballad. If you’ve ever questioned Tinashe’s vocal abilities, BATED BREATH showcases just how controlled and talented she is as a singer. This song represents a vulnerable side to her, and I would love to hear her singing more r&b ballads as skin-tingling as Bated Breath in the future. I’m blown away by this track. Not to mention that dramatic pause had me holding my breath. Lovely composition.

WILDFIRE lets go of the emotional impact left by the previous song, and comes in a strong number all on its own. The track is fierce. The verses are tamed, while the hook picks up the energy and soars. I like the backing music and how well it compliments the harmonies. Catchy number with an electrifying intention. 

I had to check to make sure I was still listening to Tinashe’s album when the outro, THE STORM, started to play. The piano is very intriguing and the humming spooked me out. I wish there were words like in the interludes, but I guess the artist wanted to focus on the music and allowed it to convey whatever message the listener detects on our own. From my interpretation, The Storm represents unpredictability and strength. I use it as a way of saying, there are great things to come from Tinashe, and she’s only getting started.

Overall, Aquarius is a solid first album. Fresh and groovy tracks with lucid song lyrics and delightful music production. Tinashe is a talented artist with something tasteful and fun to add in an era that’s yearning for newness. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but there’s definitely something different about her sound that separates her from the overdone stuff. I wish I’d learned about her prior to 2 On and what she had to offer on her mixtapes, because clearly I’ve been missing out on her style. I hope the album reaps the wonderful rewards it so deserves, and I look forward to the incredible things Tinashe has to deliver from here on because after listening to Aquarius, I’m totally sure there’s a lot more where this came from.

Rating: 4/5

Release date: October 7th 2014

Label: RCA

Purchase: Amazon | iTunes


Track Listing:

01. Aquarius
02. Bet ft. Dev Hynes
03. Cold Sweat
04. Nightfall (Interlude)
05. 2 On ft. Schoolboy Q
06. How Many Times ft. Future
07. What is There to Lose (Interlude)
08. Pretend ft. A$AP Rocky
09. All Hands on Deck
10. Indigo Child (Interlude)
11. Far Side of the Moon
12. The Calm (Interlude)
13. Feels Like Vegas
14. Thug Cry
15. Deep in the Night (Interlude)
16. Bated Breath
17. Wildfire
18. The Storm (Outro)


*This review is based on the opinion of the writer and doesn’t reflect the views of EY as a whole.






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