‘333’ by Tinashe

Genre: Pop, RnB

Best tracks: The Chase, 333, Undo (Back To My Heart), Bouncin, Small Reminders

Weakest tracks: Unconditional

Release Date: August 6, 2021

Length: 47 min 8 sec

Independent artist Tinashe has returned after two years with her 5th studio album: ‘333’. The talented RnB singer and dancer has a loyal fan following that has lauded her for breaking it off with her older studio label and going her own way to make music that she loves. But is ‘333’ worth the years-long wait?

“Let Go” is the opening track of this pop-RnB album. It’s a good starter and builds intrigue among listeners with its sounds of birds chirping. We then hear a choir song almost hauntingly, which gives us a feeling of spiritual ecstasy. Then there’s finger snappings just like the choirs in black churches do when they sing gospel music during praise and worship. This combination of sounds gives us a feeling of bliss, like the ones we think we will hear when angels sing at the gates of heaven as one is about to enter the afterlife. Perhaps this is Tinashe’s way of introducing us to the concept of her album: it’s about a utopian society that is environment-friendly and closely linked with nature.

“The Chase” is a very unexpected song from Tinashe but it’s also one of the best in the record. It’s a pop-rock song with blazing guitars and loud percussion, standing out from the other RnB slow tempo tracks and straight away being memorable. “Undo (Back To My Heart)” is also one of the best tracks from the album with its fast-tempo and crowd-friendly dance track. “Small Reminders” is another great track. It first starts low and sounds like another typical RnB song that you have heard many times over. But midway, Tinashe switches up; she starts rapping to a swanky beat with attitude and sass. It’s a catchy and confident tune to nod your head to.

This is not to say that ‘333’ is an outstanding album as it has more than its fair share of weak songs. “Angels” features the RnB starlet Kaash Paige and is sort of a let down. It has low energy and a bland tune. Additionally, one can’t distinguish the two singers’ voices as both sound very similar to each other, which makes you wonder why Paige was even on this track. “Unconditional” is also another RnB song that starts off slow and predictable, but suddenly it has a switch up midway. This might seem promising but sadly, the beat switch doesn’t give enough power to push this song to a higher gear, staying instead in its own unmemorable mediocrity.

Things get more fun with “Undo (Back To My Heart)” which is an oughties-styled pop dance track if Madonna, Kylie Minogue and Rihanna partied together at a club in 2009. “Last Call” makes for a very 2008-like RnB vibe, which is almost reminiscent of Beyoncé in her ‘I Am… Sasha Fierce’ era. The tune of the verses may sound familiar to us, but it does have a groovy and catchy chorus. Finally, we get to the closing track: “It’s a Wrap”. This is one of the better and stronger closing tracks in any album or mixtape this year. It’s lyrically direct and makes for a pleasant listen.

The publicity for Tinashe’s ‘333’ has been quite hyped up. The title, which refers to the auspicious number of triple three, along with the cover art and back sleeve of the record with its imagery of a third eye open on the forehead and an eye on a palm, all have together suggested that ‘333’ would be a spiritually explorative and exciting album. Perhaps, we even assume it would paint a portrait of a utopian and futuristic society: one that is in harmony with nature but does not discard technology to the side. It is surely promised in the opening track “Let Go”. There is an anticipation for the lyrics of these songs to discuss themes of enlightenment and spirituality. In fact, I wouldn’t even mind some New Age philosophy in the lyrics. But disappointingly, most of the songs are lyrically and thematically pretty conventional and familiar: there are the common themes of love and sex, relationships and seduction, partying and dancing, a very safe territory for pop music.

Tinashe’s fans have always dubbed her as an “Aquarius queen”, a forward-thinking artist with the Aquarius zodiac sign who fits all of the qualities of a mature Aquarian: unique, creative, humanitarian, idiosyncratic and other-worldly. The singer has been publicised as an artist who remains true to herself. This is true since she has cut ties with a label that did not trust her talents and downplayed (even sabotaged) her career. And now she is free from her contract and can do what she wants creatively. However, this freedom does not manifest successfully on her new record. One expects her to make music for motivating the masses, that brings the world together in a harmonious group, or at least looks at familiar themes from a new lens. But this is mostly surface level, as Tinashe’s music fails to explore unique or forward-thinking topics as promised by the album artwork. There’s no strong call for action or communion. No direct political or feminist stances. No discussion about technology and AI, religion, spirituality and mysticism. Lyrically, the lyrics are all familiar, which makes ‘333’ a disappointingly mediocre album. Sure, it has catchy tunes. But it set high expectations with its publicity and then failed to meet them.

‘333’ by Tinashe is now on Spotify.

You can listen to it on YouTube:

Also read: British popstar Charli XCX announces new Podcast series



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1 Comment

  1. I respectfully disagree with this review. I hear what you’re saying in that you were expecting very spiritual songs, but spirituality doesn’t have to look or sound one way. On this album, her spirituality is expressed through clarity. These songs are all about taking your life into your own hands, making the decision to be happy, getting rid of things that no longer suit you, and overall seeing things more clearly (3rd eye open.) The sounds in the production are very video games like, and it demonstrates how she now views life like a video game/VR game where she is control of the outcome. Contrast this with songs on the last album like “Made for you” and “so much better” where instead of feeling in control of those situations, her emotions are very much in charge, trying to keep her in situations that clearly no longer suit her.

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