SZA’s debut record has been long-awaited, and it arrives as a showcase of an incredibly accomplished talent who glides between narratives and dreamscapes with consummate ease. Making the point that she operates outside the indicative boundaries of her R&B sphere isn’t so much a cliché but a redundant statement in 2017, but the opulent touchstones she weaves her streams of consciousness around mean it’s a point that needs to be stressed in this case. It’s a Frank Ocean- level exploring of her own environment, and even when you take the supremely confident wordplay out of the equation, the soundscapes are irresistible in themselves. Opening track Supermodel is stripped-back from the outset with a reclusive guitar riff, and the gorgeously mixed tracks that follow only serve to enhance the arrangement as the record progresses. SZA is alarmingly frank with her tongue, too, and never afraid to hold back on the details. Supermodel is a great tale of revenge for a Valentine’s Day jilt, but she always remains in touch with love’s delicacies and intimacies amongst her tales of bedroom bravado. Ctrl is a languid, cavernously soulful debut that is never anything but assured – a collection of delicious jams that are equal parts fragile, cozy and piercing.
FIRST PUBLISHED ON NO RIPCORD