SOS! SZA's album is so good!
SZA needs help, everyone!! SOS!! She’s so ridiculously down-bad that she wrote 23 entire songs and released them all on one album. And almost every single one of them is sad. I’ve been talking about reviewing SZA’s groundbreaking new album “SOS” ever since it came out, and now I’m finally doing it. Instead of boring you with the tedium of all 23 (very good, may I add) tracks, I’m going to highlight my five favorites, in hopes of capturing the essence of “SOS.”
“Nobody Gets Me”
This song pulled me in from the very beginning. The intro is so incredibly ocean; it fits really well with the theme of the album. I’m baffled by the placement of the song in the 14th spot on the album — it’s way too good to be in such an inconspicuous place. This is the quintessential scream-and-cry-along song, with a sick twist of very SZA-esque eroticism in the first verse. She’s telling a really compelling story here, one of love and lust and loss all rolled into one. She uses concrete details, like the MGM hotel and the ballet. We feel her violent heartache like it’s our own. Like SZA, I also wonder how I’m supposed to tell you, I don’t wanna see you with anyone but me.
This is another track that just sounds like the album cover, with its undulating guitar and slow jam drums. There’s nothing particularly interesting about the lyrics, just the usual heart-melting, slightly sarcastic sadness that SZA bleeds out into the entire album. There’s something about that sarcasm, though, that’s especially emphasized in “Open Arms” and that I really love. She’s not embracing a lover as much as she is ridiculing herself for sticking around for someone who doesn’t care about her. It’s almost grating how self-cynical she is, but set against the pretty instrumentals, it doesn’t seem so bad.
This is the cult favorite of the album, surely because of its almost absurd honesty. The murder of the ex-boyfriend is a difficult but common trope, and I think she tackles it perfectly. The feelings of untethered wanting that motivate the storyline are almost muted by the gory details: the texts, the therapist, the drugs. You can feel the crazy. It makes you feel better about being crazy yourself. And it's so catchy.
I liked this song mostly because, to be frank, it was a bop. It’s a lot more danceable than much of the rest of the album. It has this awesome line, “I don’t wanna be your girlfriend, I just wanna be your person,” that works so well with the main chorus. Has he even noticed her yet? This is a classically “girl” dilemma, and is very well captured by SZA in this bouncy track.
This is one of the few happy-in-love songs on “SOS.” It gives insight into the chaotic nature of relationships — the good, the bad, the murderous. Something great about this album is how it’s so completely about one man and this song proves it. SZA references “Kill Bill” while simultaneously providing context for it. “Snooze” has a really great vibe that could almost be wholesome if you ignored the rest of the album.
Honorable mentions: “Shirt,” “I Hate U,” “Blind,” “Seek and Destroy”
What I think everyone loves about SZA is how she’s so unafraid to say some of the more terrifyingly emotional things that we all sometimes think. She leans into her own femininity and impassioned sentimentality in such a beautiful and graceful way. The instrumentals on this album lend themselves very elegantly to this stylistic pattern. I think the general sounds of this album are demonstrated well by the album cover. There’s a lot of depth and an equal amount of intricacies, and SZA is stranded somewhere in the middle of it all.