Review Summary: Blame it on my juice
I think I’m about as far away from Lizzo’s target group as you can get. West-European white guy, my interests in music tend to be mostly different shades of metal. I hardly ever listen to R&B and Hip-hop music and I have no peers or friends who frequently listen to these genres. Because of this, I have no idea how Lizzo’s latest falls into the big scheme of things. I don’t know if this reshapes the landscape of its respective genre, or if it is even good by comparison with its contemporaries. What I do know, is that ‘Cuz I Love You’ is a lot of fun and got me completely hooked.
The opening title song makes one thing clear from literally the first second: THIS GIRL CAN SING! I was floored by the incredible amount of detail and different vocal styles in these first three minutes alone. No matter what she does, she seems to be in complete control of her voice. The way she almost groans that second time she sings ‘I’m cryin’’ both impressed me and cracked me up at the same time. She doesn’t stop there though, for throughout the album her voice keeps being a tour-de-force that carries most of the songs to a higher level.
The album cover is particularly striking. The composition of a naked, big, black woman is eye-catching, but more importantly, it tells you exactly what to expect from the music: Pride, confidence and sometimes, a little vulnerability. On ‘Cuz I love You’ Lizzo has somehow found a way to be super confident without becoming cocky or arrogant. The main ingredients she uses to achieve this are humor and positivity. The first half of the album in particular is filled to the brim with catchy, positive and up-tempo songs that keep the energy incredibly high. The lyrical themes are also very positive and the energetic delivery makes it all infectious to the point where I found myself wanting to sing along with multiple songs. Juice
is an early highlight that encompasses this perfectly. The funky beats and catchy chorus worked its way into my head and stayed there for a couple of days.
Perhaps the most interesting thing about ‘Cuz I Love You’ is how authentic it is. After listening to the record I have the feeling that I know who Lizzo is, what she is like as a person. When it comes to the lyrics, she chose to keep things very close and personal. The result of this is that every single thing she sings gets delivered in a convincing and emotionally relatable way. Soulmate
for instance, feels like the answer to an existential crisis that we never got to see. The answer though, is a masterclass in loving yourself and relying on your own strengths. It is all done in a very loud and humoristic, over the top way, which keeps it from getting overly serious.
A point of criticism that I can imagine people having is also one of its main selling points: It’s very loud and proud and because if this, pretty self-centered. Even the subdued songs like Jerome
and album closer Lingerie
have Lizzo yelling and screaming at points. After a while this can becomes a little tedious. Yeah we know it, you can sing. For me this never became a hindrance however, because the music is just so much fun.
A little problem I did have with Lizzo’s latest is that the second half of the record feels less inspired and infectious than the first half. Exactly How I Feel
for example, is just a tad less catchy or different from the songs that came before it, and Lingerie
is pretty forgettable, missing a clear hook to drive the song forward. It’s a shame, because songs like Juice
, Like a Girl
are all completely different from each other, going from big-band to funk to R&B. Heaven Help Me
is the exception in this weaker second half. Helped by a gospel choir, the only song that gets delivered in a genuinely serious way becomes an album highlight because of it.
Overall, ‘Cuz I Love You’ is a short album filled to the brim with fun and catchy songs. Yes, it’s loud, but it’s also self-aware, tongue-in-cheek and plain funny at times. It’s a feel good album in all its heavy bones and a sweet, juicy look at Lizzo’s state of mind and persona.