Mini album review: Solange - True

Mini album review: Solange - True | randomjpop.blogspot

Solange's debut featured some great songs, but was too long and felt too 'anybody.' Hints of her song writing ability did show through occasionally, but there was little to truly cement who Solange was as an artist. When all was said and done, by the end of the album she was still just Beyoncé's little sister who managed to put out an album for that reason. Her follow up Sol-Angel and the Hadley st. flops had more of a direction, but felt like an album where Solange was trying a little too hard to be different. And as much as I liked "I decided" Beyoncé would have sang it better. But True represents a completely new direction for Solange where she's finally found her niche. And she manages to deliver a much more consistent EP which not only holds up better than her previous efforts, but stands taller than her sisters' efforts too.

Beyoncé has heard this EP. Bitch knows it's good. And she mad. She mad hat despite her efforts to keep Solange suppressed with her incessant screaming, Swizz Beatz hand-claps and deafening horns, that Solange has somehow managed to release another album which slide another few abacus beads in the direction of 'Why Solange is hot'.

True is kinda conceptual. An album about a relationship which has been shot to hell. Sometimes it's Solange's fault, sometimes it's 'his' fault. But each song represents the deconstruction of a relationship, with both parties showing regret at the whole thing falling apart. Knowing that what they had was amazing, but breaking at the realization that as great as it was, there is no way they can get it back. This would seems excessive for 7 tracks and in fact it is. "Make trouble look good" is a snooze of a song, even for an interlude. It goes nowhere and is the kind of boring slow jam you'd expect from Beyoncé. The only point amidst the album where you could draw a comparison to her. "Some things never seem to fucking work" just about sums up the song. A brilliant piece of production hearkening back to Madonna during her True blue days. But the non-existant structure of the song makes it difficult to catch. Solange pretty much just sings line after line and recites the song title occasionally before producer Dev Hynes makes a guest appearance for a poem recital towards the end. For a song which should / could have been so simple, Solange and Dev convolute it with too many lyrics and leave too much caution to the wind with song structures to the point it renders the song a 5 minute thing which you're just too unsure of.

But elsewhere on this EP, Solange delivers. Lead single "Losing you" is one of the best pop records of 2012 - sounding like Madonna circa 1987 with hints of Banarama's "Cruel summer". What makes this song work is that it feels so effortless. The lyrics are simple, yet poignant. The song evokes such a positive care free vibe despite being about a relationship gone horribly wrong. The song structure sports repetition and wallows in it along with Solange's confessional self pity, but the song never feels boring or that it's dragging on too long. In fact, it's a song which always feels like it's ended too soon when it's over.

Put on your skinny jeans and hi-tops n***as and bitches, meet me in the abandoned warehouse off the side street and prepare to throw down, because "Locked in closets" goes hard. If Solange wants hood appeal to go in the clubs, she's got that shit right here with this song. Soaked in 80's funk, with an opening which sounds like it's setting itself up for a mix into Vanilla Ice - it's immediately familiar. The only fault with this song is that it ends prematurely. It could have done with a bridge or a middle 8.

Solange croons over a reggae skittered beat for "Lovers in the parking lot", taking the blame for a relationship falling to shit because she spent more time leaning into the cars of n***as waiting in their whips with the window half rolled down in the McDonald's drive thru than being a good girlfriend to her man. Had Klingon Fenty done this song, it would have been skankness about how she put her legs up in the back of some strangers' car and let him eat it and beat it up until it went purple and fell off. But Solange's delivery renders this tale tragic. Still a banger tho. It's one of those 'Bitch, I feel sorry for you, but I will get my dance on to yo' heartbreak' types of songs.

70's soul runs amok on "Don't let me down", with Solange giving more soul in the space of this songs 4 minutes and 13 seconds than she gave on the entirety of Sol-Angel and the Hadley st. flops. Solange's vocals do not stand out on the other songs on the album as the production marries with her vocals so perfectly and she seems so content with not really trying to push with anything at the expense of throwing off what is a perfect balance of Dev Hynes production and Solange's humbleness to stay within it. But her vocals really do shine on this track. Exuding a fore running aggressiveness in one line, a sensual croon in the next and then an En Vogue style harmony 4 syllables later.

Album closer "Bad girls (Verdine version)" throws things back into Madonna territory, rolling along with the guilt and loss stricken foretelling of "Live to tell". Initially it feels like an idiosyncratic way to end the album, but it's a fitting closure given the way in which it starts. A tale of a relationship gone wrong and asking why, bookended with a song providing closure and an understanding of why things ended up the way they did - with Solange taking the blame. Underlaid with a dark musical backdrop, with occasional flourishes representing a type of hope that this will not be the end and that either Solange or her other half will find love again, whether it's with one another or somebody else. A beautiful song. It doesn't catch you as instantly as some of the other songs, but it has a charm about it just as the rest do. It's the type of song you'll probably skip countless times. And then during a play through as you're tidying the house, rolling in the car and are too pre-occupied to bother skipping the song, you'll listen to it and then wonder why you'd skipped it all those times before.

Despite the down trodden sombre tone of this album, True is vibrant. And what is truly showcased here is not only Solange's willingness to reinvent herself through her music, but also her relationship with Blood Orange's Dev Hynes. You can tell they had a blast making this record and that it was a journey for them both. They trust one another and see muses in one another which adds a whole other layer to the songs. There is also a raw quality to this album which makes it feel real and tangible. At times some of the songs sound as though Dev just ran a beat, set the tapes and had Solange just hop on the mic and sing. Every song evokes a mood. The song structures are not in your face. The choruses creep up on you and end before you even realize they came. Songs often end when you expect for there to be another minute's worth of music. True runs at it's own pace. Unassumingly so, but wholly fulfilling. And Solange and Dev's are truly symbiotic on this album. Aaliyah and Timbaland. Brandy and Rodney Jerkins. Solange and Dev Hynes. It's that type of union.

The brilliance of this EP is that it manages to elevate itself above being a regular R&B record, much in the same way that Frank Ocean's Channel orange and Miguel's Kaleidoscope dream did. Solange had a story to tell and she told it without trying to really do anything R&B specific, yet somehow managed to push the genre forward and marry it into an Indie crowd And a pop loving posse here and there.

For a girl who has been on a 10 year voyage to find her sound and carve out her own career separate from that of her sister, True is home. Her most defined, consistent and accomplished release yet. Solange may not garner the sales of Beyoncé with this release (if ever) but Solange will most certainly nab herself an army of new fans, as well as surprising and pleasing those who have been following her musical journey from the start. Solange does stumble on this EP on a couple of occasions, but the moments when she shines are so blinding that you barely see the shortcomings. Solange shows more growth and musical tenacity amongst these 7 tracks than Beyoncé has shown across 4 full length studio albums. Solange may not want the comparison, but I just made it anyway.



Album highlights:
■ Losing you
■ Locked in closets ★ J's fave
■ Lovers in the parking lot
■ Don't let me down
■ Bad girls (Verdine version)











10 comments:

  1. I finally downloaded True, but I haven't had time for anything else but Losing You. It really is addictive.

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  2. Goodness, if this was just an EP, imagine a whole album of this! I'm starting to like this direction she's going. "Don't Let Me Down" and "Losing You" are just amazing gems. And you're right, "Locked in Closets" is that jam; it's just too short, I wanted more!

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  3. You should review SNSD's 2nd Japanese Album

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    Replies
    1. Only if he can appreciate the Oasis that it is amidst the barren wasteland of a dessert that is the Japanese Music Industry right now though.

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    2. Any album SNSD releases causes nothing but drought.

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    3. Drought for other artists? Yes. Must be why Crystal is over there looking all dry and crusty. Girls came to get home and took her people's money that she was never gonna get.

      Being the top selling Korean Act in Japan does not come without its consequences.

      The rest can stay thirsty while GG stay quenched.

      GG be soaking up all dat muney.

      #GGBeKeepingMotherEffersYouParched

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    4. Drought as in their careers.

      Being the top selling Korean act in Japan means nothing, girls are done and over in Japan, flopping like their dance moves.

      Bitches be rolling alright, but that's just their choreography, ain't SM tossing those bitches any money.

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    5. "Girls' Generation make you take a seat. And they're dragging you, they can't be beat. Br- Bring the Trolls out!
      Ripping competition, nobody's gonna win. Taking all the yen.
      You know the girls! Throw them Trolls out!"
      ....

      "GIRLS $H!T IN DEY MOUTHS!"

      "I wanna laugh right now! Girls don' came and made you all sit down!
      Yes we know you all are ZEROS! We're NUMBER ONE both here and at home, check this out!
      All the Japs, all the Japs worship it! All the haters, all the stans nibble our clits!
      Oh Gee! We make you so mad! Girls' Generation! Your faves can't!

      La- Lay Dem Trolls Out!"

      -InnerRise (Merry Christmas)

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    6. 'Flower Power'

      Total Sales : 37,270

      - David

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  4. I wanted to hear more of a "Cosmic Journey " or "Could this be Love" both those songs had a outer space R&B retro yet modern feel.Solange took a exit from outer space and kept her retro modern vibe so I liked it. The song "losing you" is one of my fav songs of 2012 I'm a fan but she needs be a little bit more turnt up in 2013 because her material is good if Tamar Braxton can go number one from stepping in front of her sister shadow then I know Solange can go get em gurl!

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