TINASHE — JOYRIDE

 Release date: April 13, 2018

I have decided, because of this album, to stop including grades in my reviews, because I honestly don’t know what I would give Joyride. It functions both as a comedy album and and R&B album…..but not as a comedy R&B album.

Clocking in at only 36 minutes — and that includes an intro track and two interludes — Joyride starts promisingly. I found it pleasantly ironic that the intro track is called “Keep Your Eyes on the Road,” as I was driving while trying to bring the album up on Spotify. Thanks, Tinashe, for keeping me honest.

But, that was basically the extent of my amusement with “Keep Your Eyes on the Road.” The other interludes are called “Ain’t Good For Ya” and “Go Easy on Me,” neither of which have anything to do with driving…or each other, for that matter. The lack of synchronistic-ness of these interludes gives the impression that they were included because the rest of her album was only 33 minutes without them (not that 36 really adds much). I suppose “Keep Your Eyes on the Road” slightly connects to “Joyride,” but not in any meaningful way that I can glean. If you’re going to include an interlude, do it for a reason.

“Ain’t Good for Ya” does include the wonderfully odd flute sounds of signature Tinashe, though, so at least there’s that.

The first four tracks of Joyride, including the title track, kick the album off well enough; solid tracks that hook me enough to keep going and see what develops.

The problem is, what develops is complete nonsense. “Ooh La La,” instead of a normal drum beat, begins with what sounds like a creaky floor….and then becomes a painfully obvious bed-creak. K.

The next tune, “Me So Bad,” features French Montana. Here’s some of his part:

Once I showed her the safe
She ain’t want no safe sex

Literally….what? “Your dick is sooooo good, who cares if I get pregnant?” No. No. What? No.

The only other part of the song that stands out is Tinashe’s line: “come get this body.” Seems like a potentially normal lyric, but the way it’s phrased makes it incredibly awkward; “body” is punched really hard, and it just makes me picture a really drunk girl who thinks she’s being super cute straight up yelling at men in the crowd. “COME GET THIS BODY.”

Overall, the featured artists on Joyride don’t really add much to the album. Future, on “Faded Love,” most of all. His addition is cringe-worthy not only because it has no rhythm, mostly just names different ethnicities of women he wants to have sex with (some songs do this better: “Mambo No. 5,” “Talk Dirty” by Jason Derulo), but mostly because it sounds like he’s tripping over his words.

Basically, Joyride is confusing more than anything else, because some parts are produced extremely well, but some parts, like Future’s bit, are awful. It would be much more cohesive had the album been two different releases or even a Side A and Side B, as many of the songs have ridiculous lyrics/sound effects, while others are…good?

The best track, by far is “Fires and Flames,” which closes the album. It’s a well-written song that comes across as honest and far outshines the rest of the pack. In much of this album, Tinashe doesn’t get to show off her vocal ability, which is actually quite staggering. On “Fires and Flames,” her voice breaks through as the centerpiece, and you can hear how much she actually cares about her craft. The rest of the album is fine but filled with nonsensical lyrics and limiting melodies. It all feels very surface level, as though it were written for people who have never had an existential crisis. “Fires and Flames” shows Tinashe as a true artist.

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