Music Review

Noah Kahan

Staff Writer

“Souled Out,” released on Tuesday, September 9th by Jhene Aiko, is a beautiful work that epitomizes PBR&B done right. For those unfamiliar, PBR&B is a recent subgenre of rhythm and blues that focuses on soulless electronic music. The vocals, however, are deeply sensual and soulful, which creates a unique contrast. Jhene Aiko’s album strikes a perfect balance between electronic minimalism and soulful, inspired vocals, making it a riveting listen. The entire album sounds like a lullaby (in the best way possible). Yet, her lyrics themselves reveal a deeply heartbroken singer. On “Lyin King,” a song that sounds sensual and sleepy, Aiko sings, “Mr. Serial Lover/I wish your mother/Loved you like I could have/That way you would’ve known how to love a woman.” Similar lyrics are sprinkled throughout the album. But what makes Souled Out even more effective than other PBR&B albums is the fact that the lyrics are the only dark or angry elements of Aiko’s sound. One of the fathers of PBR&B, The Weeknd, is a fantastic artist. Jhene Aiko, by making her lyrics and music clash, brings the sonic and lyrical contrast of PBR&B even further, to the point where, were someone to listen to the music alone, they might mistake the album’s content for typical pop music. But by sprinkling in some angry, vengeful lyrics as frequently as she does, and introducing subtle, dark elements into otherwise relaxed music, Aiko subverts the tropes of pop. However, one significant drawback of the album that must be mentioned is that the songs themselves sometimes seem to blend together. While this can be good, at times she blurs the lines between songs too significantly.


Categories: Features

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