SZA - SOS + "Saturn"

Not gonna lie, the album probably being close to thirty tracks when you add the inevitable deluxe tracks makes me a bit apprehensive. Like, I'm sure the majority of the songs are going to be great (and also, get those streams), but I definitely would have preferred something at least a bit tighter. Albums that long pretty much always have at least some filler and very rarely make for an enjoyable front to back listening experience.
 
I’ve accepted this won’t be a Ctrl type opus, it’s going to be a playlist affair with a lot of demo-feeling tracks.

If I can harvest a great 13 track album, I’m content.
 
I understand apprehension but with SZA being insanely caught up in her own self-doubt/anxiety, I'll take the more tracks the merrier right now since she's under obligation to actually put something out. After her contract is up with this record I could see her becoming a recluse with sporadic music drops and even less mastering taking place.

That being said I'm on Special and this is everything I could've wanted from her sophomore record, maybe like two weird sequencing choices so far but there's nothing bad.
 
he/him
Ok so even with the mammoth tracklist, I knew this would still be great-but bloody HELL, bar a couple of samey tracks, the whole album is fantastic. The production soars and helps the record feel like the worthy successor to Ctrl that it absolutely is, her vocals have beyond improved, she’s seriously outdone herself here.
 
Not gonna lie, the album probably being close to thirty tracks when you add the inevitable deluxe tracks makes me a bit apprehensive. Like, I'm sure the majority of the songs are going to be great (and also, get those streams), but I definitely would have preferred something at least a bit tighter. Albums that long pretty much always have at least some filler and very rarely make for an enjoyable front to back listening experience.
So it was years and years of complaints about no album and now there’s suddenly…too much album? I’m grinding my teeth.
 
Gave this a listen, I'm not the biggest SZA fan out there but I thought the album was a definite vibe and a strong body of work she can feel proud of. Immediate highlights for me were Gone Girl, F2F and Nobody Gets Me, the latter being gorgeous.
 
So it was years and years of complaints about no album and now there’s suddenly…too much album? I’m grinding my teeth.

I mean, I'm sure most people will agree a relatively concise, high quality body of work is better than an overly bloated album that inevitably contains a few less great songs. That's as true for SZA as it is for any other artist. I don't think anyone's hoping the next Kate Bush album is thirty songs long either.
 
Listening in order and Low is the first song on the album that I really liked.

Wait... the Hit Different sample in Love Language?!
 
I think it’s fantastic so far. A lot more pop than CTRL so some songs here will appeal to a wider audience. Some fans will be divided, though.

Sat down with it and then listened to CTRL, which was... a mistake ddd can't help but make comparisons that it isn't as good, but then again, the former is one of the best albums of all time and not many albums are.
 
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Too many highlights! Literally most songs I'm like yes this is the one and then the next one plays and no THIS is the one! Liked that the singles are towards the end for some reason aswell. A triumph. And the vocals! Can't wait to really get to know this over the next few weeks.
 
Whew. We're off to a good start. SOS, Kill Bill, Low... Fire.

Edit: The odd thing about the album while I'm listening is how it starts off super cohesively, up until around Notice Me, where you can tell she got lost in the sequencing. By the time I'm at Smoking on my Ex Pack, I'm like "What is happening?".

F2F might be my favorite, but I can tell that's going to be a divisive track.

There's definitely some obvious bloat on here, but that's a given for an album with 23 tracks.

Overall, it's definitely a bit messy, but that's okay. There's undoubtedly a 9/10 album trapped in here - I just wish she had a little more assistance from her team in whittling it down. I know I should wait for the (completely unnecessary) deluxe, but here's my take on my ideal revised tracklist:

01 - SOS
02 - Kill Bill
03 - Seek & Destroy
04 - Low
05 - Love Language
06 - Blind
07 - Used
08 - F2F
09 - Special
10 - I Hate U
11 - Gone Girl
12 - Ghost in the Machine
13 - Shirt
14 - Open Arms
15 - Good Days
16 - Forgiveless
 
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First rough listen and this is pretty great. There are times you can hear the pressure to bow to the weight of CTRL and all of its magnificence, but she just about avoids it. I kinda think the back half of the album is actually a really interesting and expansive sound for her … F2F and Special are the standout 10/10’s on first listen. It’s so good to have her back. When she nails it lyrically she is the artist of a generation. I very much look forward to getting a deeper dive into this through the winter.
 
All I know is hearing her grandma’s voice at the beginning of “Open Arms” filled me with nostalgia of CTRL and grief since she felt so integral with her voice memos there.

It’s really a lovely listen from start to finish. Can’t wait to keep it on repeat.

Total sidenote: do “Shirt” and “I Hate U” sound beefed up/mastered differently? They sound a lot better to my ears here.
 
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