Reviews are a pain-free way of combining writing with what I love (for example, music), in a way that generates interest.
Nightride Showcases an Anti-R&B Perspective
Nightride (2016) is the first half of a double album from Kentucky-born singer/songwriter and producer Tinashe. On the album, Tinashe carves out and enforces her own subversive take on the R&B genre.
In a music industry full of cookie-cutter personalities, Tinashe’s off-centre point of view is admirable. Admittedly, her mysterious musical visions were not always executed convincingly on her previous releases. However, throughout Nightride they’re presented better than ever before. A sleek balance is found between the chart fodder expected from a rising pop princess and the star’s enigmatic, anti-R&B interests.
Tinashe manages to confidently communicate the album’s more challenging ideas, as well as the ones that see her hitting the club with her girlfriends. "C’est La Vie" goes one step further and combines the two flavours to become one of the album’s best tracks.
Intense, Complex Vibes
Worlds away from the output of her former girl group the Stunners, Tinashe’s unique R&B standpoint is demonstrated adventurously on interlude "Binaural Test". Interestingly, the album’s unorthodox efforts are placed nearer the front of Nightride, while its crop of more radio-friendly tunes are scattered towards its backend. These sidelined, digestible cuts come wrapped in a club-driven, hip-hop coating and contain lots of harmless earworms.
Tracks like "Ride of Your Life" are needed to offset the sheer intensity of the project’s comparatively complex offerings. Though they all tackle superficial, throwaway subject matter, they also entertainingly channel a boundless, youthful energy—it's a shame they're deprioritised. On the whole though, much to Tinashe’s credit, the majority of the LP’s standout moments can be found within its main rundown of lo-fi, otherworldly R&B creations.
"Sacrifices" Flickers With Darkness
Flickering with darkness, "Sacrifices" is notable because Tinashe’s alternative tendencies pretty much peak on this cut. The song can become vague sounding, but an undeniable aura is created on it. Upon a menacing R&B framework, this song boasts animalistically sexual lyrics. Without sounding out of depth, Tinashe somehow pulls off its horror movie motif. She even ends the tune with a cold, direct declaration to her partner.
Employing video game tones, single ‘Company’ is a slick, playful mid-tempo number. Channelling her inner boss, Tinashe uses the track to explain to a man that she’s not currently looking for love—or a boyfriend. She wants a distraction, not a wedding. "Company" probably wasn’t the best choice for the project’s lead single. Nightride certainly has stronger tunes that carry the same amount of sass, still, the track’s slurred, over-processed ending is memorable.
"Spacetime" Explores a Range of Sci-Fi Concepts
Mid-tempo, R&B effort "Soul Glitch" doesn’t possess the magnetic mix of immediacy and deep atmosphere tunes like "Sunburn" do. The song impacts foggily, so again, it’s easy to bypass. Despite that, "Soul Glitch" is home to some tasty harmonies and and dreamy vocals. Over the tune’s smokey, ghostly backdrop, the singer repeatedly delves into her highest vocal register.
Aided by a daring, exalted falsetto, Tinashe is forthright on out-the-box slow-jam "Spacetime". The songstress sounds more than comfortable delivering the track’s ravenous lyrics. ‘Spacetime’ basks in an ethereal sound. It feasts on a wide array of surreal, sci-fi-type concepts. The concoction’s many bits and pieces fit serenely together.
Sensual, Sing-Along Melody of "Ghetto Boy"
"You Don’t Know Me" begins with, and repeatedly breaks for intervals of unsettling, rewound vocals. It’s stuffed with bizarre production tricks, and could be coupled with "Spacetime". While singing about feeling misunderstood, Tinashe spends most of "You Don’t Know Me" ambitiously reshaping her vocal technique over its hefty beatwork. The tune successfully incorporates recognisable chart R&B/hip-hop touches into its gradual, voluminous instrumental.
Inviting standout ‘Ghetto Boy’ also kicks off with a dose of indistinct crooning. The sexy R&B cut’s sing-along melodies are gently layered. Appealing seductively to a romantic interest, Tinashe doesn’t over-perform the song’s sultriness. The tune’s defining, airy atmosphere is its main feature. Everything heard on "Ghetto Boy" seems to expand outwards from it.
"Touch Pass" Strikes Without Interference
Anchored by a hip-hop instrumental, the catchy, bragging "Ride of Your Life" has Tinashe casually side-eying her haters. She contrasts the heavy-hitting beatwork and trap touches of "Party Favors" with light, mischievously suggestive singing. The LP version of "Party Favors" doesn’t feature Atlanta rapper Young Thug. Despite that, while adding an extra dimension to the tune’s social backdrop, its grinding sub sounds more than make up for his absence.
With her attentions set firmly on the guy of her dreams, Tinashe’s cooing vocals weave nimbly between the roomy, minimal grooves of "Touch Pass". This song is standard R&B/hip-hop fare, but it has its charms. Tinashe doesn’t attempt to inject the song with a depth it doesn’t have, and as a result, the song's irresistible, easy-going bump is allowed to strike without interference.