Released: 9th December 2022
In the years leading up to what became ‘SOS’, while it was still mired in record label wrangling, SZA reportedly wrote hundreds of songs.
You see, that’s what she does. It’s burned into her being. Making intensely resonant and evocative music fluid across genre boundaries and styles SZA is a truly transcendent, super modern artist. Out of those hundreds of songs 23 are found here and it’s a testament to her skill that what could be a streaming focused data dump turns out to be a beautifully crafted sonic odyssey.
The album builds on and refines the approach captured on her much loved debut ‘Ctrl’. The wide open expanse of the pure ocean blue imagery of the cover is represented in the sense of freedom and possibility in the music. More ambitious and perfectly pitched, it’s an album rooted in her unique artistry but ready to be discovered by a new generation. Her rise has been a slow burn but it’s clear that she’s now embracing the development from alt R&B to a mainstream pop moment. Crucially though she’s doing it on her own terms in her own distinct voice. There’s messiness on show in terms of laying all her emotions out there but it’s a messiness that makes her music hugely relatable and with a resonant human quality. It’s a messiness that’s urgent, vital and necessary. It’s all these deep emotional feelings that are captured here and they are what make this album such an immersive experience.
‘SOS’ is a journey in every sense of the world as it traverses through poised slow jams like big single ‘Kill Bill’ and ‘Seek and Destroy’ before taking an unexpected but extremely satisfying turn into vivid and insistent punk pop on a middle stretch including the soaring ‘F2F’ and the goosebump inducing ‘Nobody Gets Me’. Proper heartstopping stuff. There’s dynamism at work here that very few artists working today possess. If ‘Ctrl’ was a word of mouth cult classic then ‘SOS’ is the sound of someone banging down your door with a megaphone demanding to be heard. A great leap forward from now indisputable pop superstar.