“Good Days” Ahead for SZA: “SOS” Album Review

“Good Days” Ahead for SZA: “SOS” Album Review

The album opener leads with the sound of ominous morse code, encoding the lead-off track and album title: “SOS.” 

Since its debut last month, SZA’s highly-anticipated sophomore studio album has reached mass success, spending a fifth consecutive week at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart

Listening to the 23-track project felt like reading a deeply personal letter. SZA speaks candidly about her insecurities and fears, and opens up about the emotional highs and lows she’s experienced in her romantic relationships. Listeners of “SOS” are brought into the fold of SZA’s inner monologue — completely unfiltered, chaotic and, at times, brutally honest. In “Kill Bill”, which has become SZA’s first number one on the U.S. Streaming Songs and Billboard Global 200 charts, she fantasizes about killing her ex and his new girlfriend. The gruesome lyrics are juxaposed with SZA’s sweet and soft vocals, paired with a melodic beachy tune. 

Along with the complex conversational tone of the music, from a production perspective, “SOS” is truly genre-bending. It features a number of artists, from trap/R&B rapper Don Toliver to alternative/indie artist Phoebe Bridgers. As illustrated in her debut album “CTRL” (2017) and her 2014 extended play “Z,”, SZA has primarily leaned into neo-soul/R&B music genres. In this new project, SZA showcases her range as an artist and experiments with different music styles that expand beyond her signature sound. She dynamically weaves in genres of pop/rock and folk, most notably in tracks like “F2F” and “Nobody Gets Me”.

SZA sings with an intense honesty and effortlessness — every song seeming to bottle a certain time and emotion. She doesn’t try to over-explain or over-complicate her feelings; She’s simply sharing them. “Goddamn it, I’m drained”, SZA sings in “Seek & Destroy.”  “Now that I’ve ruined everything, I cannot complain.” In “Notice Me,” she cycles through the contradictory emotions of yearning for a relationship she knows won’t work out: “I don’t wanna be your girlfriend.  I’m just tryna be your person,” she proclaims. “Already tried to be your girl. We can’t еven speak, but you stay on my mind.” 

The album closes out with tracks “Good Days” and “Forgiveless” where SZA asserts her confidence and a hopeful outlook on life. She’s given herself space to process and is freeing herself from the negativity and people that no longer serve a meaningful purpose for her. “Good Days” are ahead for SZA.

“Gotta get right
Tryna free my mind before the end of the world
I don't miss no ex, I don't miss no text
I choose not to respond

I don't regret, just pretend shit never happened
Half of us layin' waste to our youth, it's in the present”

Listen to the full album

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