The stereotypical Aquarius would probably see a lot of themselves in Tinashe's debut studio album -- out Tuesday (October 7) -- even if they don't want to talk about it right now, OK? The 17-track release stays cool and collected from start to finish, but a closer listen reveals a whole lot of chaos boiling just beneath its icy surface.
For every time 21-year-old Tinashe Kachingwe detachedly brags about how much she loves getting "2 On" or making a "Thug Cry" on Aquarius, she follows it up with some tender introspection. The last remnants of a crumbling relationship come crashing down with a whisper on "Pretend," and "How Many Times" sees our lady getting unabashedly vulnerable behind closed doors -- and sampling Janet Jackson's Control-era classic, "Funny How Time Flies (When You're Having Fun)," while she does it.
In placing her Water Bearer status front and center, Tinashe creates yet another reason to invite the inevitable comparison to Beyoncé -- hallowed be her name. Lest we forget, the reigning queen of mainstream R&B has fully owned her inner Virgo ever since her Dangerously In Love days, debuting with not one but two songs ("Signs" and "Gift From Virgo") dedicated to her perfectionist-leaning sun sign.
But Tinashe's style traces its lineage through a different, less dazzling crop of R&B singers (think Aaliyah), and her appeal often lies in how far from "Flawless" she can fall: She seethes in lieu of confrontation, she doubts herself instead of others, she blows up when she shouldn't and she doesn't when she should.
Then again, if you want Susan Miller-level readings, go to AstrologyZone.com. How about we check out three standout tracks from Tinashe's Aquarius?
1.) "Bet" Featuring Devonté Hynes
The low-humming electricity of Tinashe's voice crackles in the presence of Dev Hynes' production. And despite how amorphous and ghostly the producer (who also performs under the name Blood Orange) can be with his music, his collaboration with Tinashe is a well-oiled, yet still ethereal, machine.
2.) "How Many Times" Featuring Future
"Sometimes nostalgia is a cage," André Benjamin (a.k.a. Outkast's André 3000) told The New York Times in August, and that's thankfully not the case here. Sure, Tinashe samples Janet Jackson's "Funny How Times Flies (When You're Having Fun)," but she doesn't rest on it on or allow its novelty to interrupt the mood à la the inclusion of Diana Ross' "I'm Coming Out" on Ariana Grande's recent "Break Your Heart Right Back."
Plus, when was the last time you heard lyrics as direct and straightforward as: "How many times can we make love in one night?" I don't know about you, but I was definitely getting some ASPCA-metaphor fatigue lately.
3.) "2 On" Featuring Schoolboy Q
The best song on Tinashe's entire album? Possibly even the greatest bit of production DJ Mustard has ever blessed us with? The rightful heir to 2014's Song of the Summer throne? (Tinashe was robbed, tbh.) "2 On" is all of the above.