It’s only been two years since Tinashe released her brilliant debut album, Aquarius, but it’s felt like a long wait for her follow up. A trailer for her second album, titled Joyride, appeared in the summer of 2015. Early this year she revealed that RCA had rejected the album and she had to record new material. Last week, she did a Beyonce and Nightride appeared as a surprise release. It’s being billed as the first half of a double album, with Joyride following in 2017.
Since Aquarius, Tinashe has been prolific despite struggles with RCA. Amethyst was one of last year’s best mixtapes. She’s had commercial success thanks to her feature on the brilliant remix of Nick Jonas’ ‘Jealous’ and her cameo on the less-than-brilliant ‘All My Friends’ by Snakehips. She’s also released a solid run of singles; sadly, none of them charted. The absence of her most commercial singles, ‘Player’ and ‘Superlove’ suggest that she’s keeping them for Joyride. Joyride is rumoured to be more commercial than the downbeat Nightride.
The moody atmospherics of Nightride are encapsulated well on opener, ‘Lucid Dreaming’. Its deep bassline is a common musical theme of this record. The gorgeous swirling keyboards and xylophones give a woozy feel aptly captured by the title. Tinashe has a defiant spirit as she sings, “if it’s my life, ain’t nobody going to tell me how to live it” which could be a message to RCA.
The placement of some of the previous singles fits well with the overall ambience of the record. ‘Company’ sounds like an outtake from Cassie’s classic first album with its minimal beat and catchy computer game synths. The slinky ‘Party Favors’ is led by a warped keyboard line and is improved in its re-recorded form with the addition of a wonderful middle eight.
The lush and relaxed production on ‘Soul Glitch’ provides one of the warmest and most satisfying moments here. ‘Spacetime’ is an intimate and beautiful song that features a delicate vocal that shows the strength of Tinashe’s voice. ‘Touch Pass’ is playful and recalls the cool R&B of Mariah Carey’s underrated late 00s work. These songs are the sound of Tinashe effortlessly blending sensual R&B and leftfield pop.
Nightride ends with the dreamy, ‘Ghetto Boy’, which is a stunning love song written by Nicola Roberts, Babydaddy and Dev Hynes. It slowly builds into a climax with layered vocals and 80s styled guitars. It’s one of the best things Tinashe has done and works as a perfect bookend to the album. It’s impressive that Tinashe’s created such a complete record after a year of false starts and bouncing between different styles. .
Aquarius was an easier album to love than Nightride. There were dark songs, but there was more light and shade. Nightride doesn’t have any songs as instant or addictive as ‘2 On’ or ‘All Hands On Deck’. Judging by some of her recent singles Tinashe is still eager to break through commercially. Nightride isn’t the album that’s going to do that, but it’s a rewarding listen over time. It could be a transitional album to her becoming the star she deserves to be. At the end of ‘Sacrifices’, Tinashe says, “I will not be ignored”: Let’s hope that when Joyride finally drops, that statement rings true.