Tinashe
333



Release Date: 08/06/2021 | Tracklist

Review Summary: it's an album. not disappointing!

I don’t get Tinashe. I neither understand who she is nor do I have a proper grip on what she’s about. What are her intentions? I think we should all (probably) be paying her attention, but - bear with me - I really, really do not want to deal with the responsibility of introducing her. End of introduction.

This actually quite unhelpful impression is mainly a reflection of the disjointed mesh of identities that the album lays down, both musical and lyrical. Tinashe wants it all. She wants to strut a horny bad bitch persona over a carpet of wavy trap beats and slippery-fingered features (“I Can See The Future”), get all tender over coffee and air us though blissed-out currents of R&B serenity (“Angels”), and freakin’ dance the night away over wholesome retro-pop bangers (“Undo (Back To My Heart)”). How many things is that? I lost count. Sometimes she wants it all at once (“Unconditional”), sometimes she turns her gaze to something else entirely (segue-song “SHY GUY” shows great promise, dipping into drum and bass for an all too fleeting moment). At every turn, the album teases twists and possibilities: trance synths flicker like a heartbeat under tingling fingertips on “Let Me Down Slowly”, while “Last Call” borrows alternative rock guitars to see off its pensive qualities in an appropriately mopey fashion.

These touches are integrated too smoothly to obstruct the album’s broader R&B/trap/pop trifecta, and so Tinashe’s various voices are wrapped up in an aesthetic shuffle both macro and micro. Those 333 levels were no joke. The arrangements aren’t the only expressionistic mapping on the cards here, either: smut at the start, eighties towards the end, the album’s sequencing also accommodates her various dispositions - up to a point. Take the sheet-creasing ode to hometown pleasures “Pasadena”, which crops up with all the subtlety of an empty lube bottle between the retro pairing of “The Chase” and “Small Reminder”: if it proves anything, it’s that stability just ain’t sexy.

Cross my heart; none of this is inherently compromising. If anything, I can see the album’s diversity of lyrical standpoints and concise acts of eclecticism coming off as a selling point. Unfortunately, some of Tinashe’s roles come off more convincingly than others. As a dewy-eyed popstar or a steamy R&B diva, she’s on point, but the lustre of her voice translates far less evenly when the lights go down and the claws come out. Honeyish she is, she lacks the grit to pull off the likes of Bad bitch, she look fine, she does it savage, you don't mind, you love it with the kind of edge you’d want influencing your pulse rate. These tracks are underwhelming, yet 333 makes an insistent commitment to them. “Bouncin’”, for instance, bungles what might have been the most suggestive lip-bite of the lot, drawl-rapping through a leaden chorus with something dangerously close to outright listlessness. The shortfall isn’t purely on her, though: on “X” and “Pasadena” she finds herself the victim of her features. The former, courtesy of Jeremih, is the main offender (pour one out for the title’s already wafer-thin ...marks the spot subtext, it was good while it lasted) but the infantile terza rima of Buddy’s smokin’ on weed~ / gettin’ so high~ / Miami~ backing croon on “Pasadena” hits a plane of unvaccinated skank-reefered fuckmouth cringe so stultifyingly foul that no song from any songwriter of any disposition, coherently introduced or not, ever had a hope of recovering from it. I’m so sorry.

If Tinashe’s lascivious bad girl act is unconvincing, and the bad boys of her retinue are tar-tongued self-parodies, then she’s at her best when her various guises and their conspicuous parameters fade into the background. The title track is an obvious standout to this end; she lays down her most dynamic performance of the record as an experimental R&B musing packaged into a complex structure that by and large defies the predictable patterns of the rest of the album. For the first and only time, her lyrics here are organic and imaginative enough that it’s easier to take them on their own terms than tie them to a persona. “The Chase” is another strong highlight for the opposite reasons; it’s a fantastically cheesy ‘80s-tinged sunset ballad by the tropes, but it sees her voice soar with such conviction that any considerations of cliche or pastiche simply evaporate from its airspace. Pop elation is one of the most precious thrills to master, and Tinashe gets it down to a tee here.

All told, 333’s latter two-thirds are full of similar highlights, individually enjoyable but somewhat piecemeal as a collection. It’s full of threads that almost come together and, more importantly, a generous swathe of playlist fodder, but I can’t say I’m a huge fan of having three semi-distinct aftertastes in my mouth at the same time. Tinashe’s voice is impressive throughout, even if some songs don’t allow for the most engaging performances; the album paints a somewhat muddled picture of her talents both as a vocalist and writer as such. Likewise, while the simple quantity of her good songs is assuredly above water, most are too succinct to be thoroughly satisfying, and they aren’t arranged cohesively enough to play off each other’s strengths. The delight to be had in the album’s kaiten whirl of individual treats is matched by its nagging sense of missing an overall vision; this is forgivable as buyer-bewares go, but it ultimately amounts to an assortment of bitesize pleasures where there might have been a climactic knockout.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
August 22nd 2021


41855 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

so who is tinashe??

big thanks to the man ramon for explaining such things as God and how to write a review with multiple sentence structures to me

yes spotify

Digging: Teenage Jesus and the Jerks - Teenage Jesus and the Jerks

alamo
August 22nd 2021


4300 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

johnny ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️



"I can’t say I’m a huge fan of having three semi-distinct aftertastes in my mouth at the same time" yeah this is def a bit all over the place, i reorganized the tracklist in a playlist grouping some of the more similar tracks together and its so much better and has been on repeat literally all month



Bouncin was such a grower to me though, the "just like this" bridge might be my favorite thing ive heard all year lol

YoYoMancuso
Contributing Reviewer
August 22nd 2021


14784 Comments


summary giving me "a disappointing effort from a band" vibes

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
August 22nd 2021


41855 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

alamo plz show us your ways what is this tracklist which album should i hear yet ahhh i hope that track grows

"summary giving me "a disappointing effort from a band" vibes"

this will not stand! new low effort summary!



Slex
August 22nd 2021


12287 Comments


Forgot about this, need to listen

Really great review

Digging: Circa Survive - A Dream About Love

DavidYowi
August 22nd 2021


1607 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Solid review Johnny, and I'm glad this has a comment section now. This is what I wanted from Songs for You. I actually really like the mix of personalities she pulls off here, her music is like a more brash version of glossy R&B acts from the late 90s to early 00's.

alamo
August 22nd 2021


4300 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

i love the new summary. the alamo edition tracklist is:



1. I Can See The Future

2. Bouncin

3. Pasadena

4. Small Reminders

5. Unconditional

6. Angels

7. SHY GUY

8. X

9. Let Me Down Slowly

10. Undo (Back To My Heart)

11. The Chase

12. Last Call

13. Bouncin', Pt. 2

14. It's a Wrap

15. 333

16. Let Go



changed the entire thing but basically i think "let me down slowly" is the perfect bridge between the first half and the ballads on the second half and "let go" is a lot better as an outro

alamo
August 22nd 2021


4300 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

also for which one you should check next i'll say maybe nightride bc it keeps a consistent aesthetic



songs for you is the closest to this, very diverse but with a better tracklist order, it also has some bangers like the chase/undo (save room for us, know better, perfect crime)



aquarius is the middle ground between those two



just stay away from joyride lol

proscett
August 23rd 2021


71 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Shy Guy only being 1 minute long is a hate crime

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
August 23rd 2021


41855 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

alamo ur listing makes perfect sense apart from Angels way too early wha

"Shy Guy only being 1 minute long is a hate crime"

yeah tbh I want a whole ep of that

ShadowRemains
August 23rd 2021


26652 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

need to give this a listen



also she still gorgeous af

alamo
August 23rd 2021


4300 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

gotta put it after unconditional because of the speech thing but i guess i could keep i can see the future - x - shy guy in the beginning so it comes a bit later



and yeah she's the queen of 1 minute bops https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1rz2hFUXfyM

Bloma
August 24th 2021


48 Comments


That cover does things to me...

Dewinged
Staff Reviewer
August 24th 2021


26037 Comments


If I dig Dua Lipa would I enjoy this?

I would read the review Johnny but it's too long and too early here ;/

Digging: Blackwater Holylight - Silence/Motion

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
August 24th 2021


41855 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Ummmm this is less consistent and also less boring than Dua Lipa, but several of its later tracks have a fair bit of overlap and Tinashe has more mic personality so I'd be surprised if you didn't find something to enjoy!

Dewinged
Staff Reviewer
August 24th 2021


26037 Comments


K sold ;*

brandontaylor
August 25th 2021


1091 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I don't really buy the angle in the review, it's pretty common for modern R&B albums to explore multiple genres. I wouldn't even say this is a particularly egregious album, I found it generally pretty cohesive.

There's been a lot of discourse about Tinashe going independent and that resulting in a big refresh and improvement to her sound... I don't really see it. On 333 she generally does the same thing she's done for her past few albums, but at a slightly lower quality than Aquarius or Songs For You. It's great she has more creative control but it's not like her sound has taken a 180 or anything.

That said there are definitely great songs on this and she is consistently putting out bangers so I think I will always be a fan.

SteakByrnes
August 25th 2021


25110 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This was pretty good!

Digging: Every Time I Die - Radical

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
August 25th 2021


41855 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

pogchomp steakian

@brandontaylor I don't think it's particularly surprising or necessarily disadvantageous that the album covers multiple styles. What I'm getting at is that I don't feel any particular presence or identity from Tinashe specifically in the way I'd like from an artist playing a broad field. I can pick apart a whole load of striking details about what she does on this alb, but if someone put a gun to my head and told me to summarise what makes Tinashe Tinashe, that'd be the last you saw of my brains. Think of it as a far less unflattering version of the take in the 2.0 review for Aquarius ig

In hindsight, the angle I might have explored more in the review is that the way she explores multiple genres is actually a pretty good way of balancing out her shortfall in personality as a lyricist/vocalist, as opposed to someone like Dua Lipa who really suffers committing to a consistent style from a similar standpoint, but tbqh I'm not familiar enough with her back catalogue to justify that kind of claim 

alamo
August 25th 2021


4300 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

aquarius is a diverse album but i definitely think it keeps a consistent nocturnal/sexy/aquatic aesthetic throughout dont let that review fool you lol. this and songs for you are the only records on which she sacrificed a more cohesive style for including a broader number of genres like dance-pop and synthpop. personally i think she's successful in both scenarios



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