Lizzo’s recent increase in popularity has happened quickly thanks to the coverage she’s had in the last six months, but she’s been making music since she was 14. She first performed in groups, and then went solo with Lizzobangers in 2013, an album brimming with potential. She finally drops her third album, Cuz I Love You after the slow-burning and all-too-modest success of ‘Juice’ (it eventually crept into the top 40 three months after release). She charms people with her effervescent personality and star-quality and she now has the songs to match. It boasts 11 songs in a concise 33 minutes and it’s the most fun and empowering record of the year.
Starting with the title track, Lizzo demonstrates her impressive vocal prowess with a powerhouse vocal. t’s an interesting move to begin with a bombastic brass-filled ballad, since this album is full of feel good songs fit for the dance floor,.Things really take off with the old school R&B swing of, ‘Like A Girl’. Lizzo expresses her self-assurance with flare singing, “crazy sexy cool without makeup, I’ve got nothing left to prove”. Her celebrations of independence are powerful and endearing. It’s easy to fall under her spell as she repeats, “If you fight like a girl, cry like a girl, do your thing run the whole damn world” .
‘Juice’ is still one of the year’s most enticing singles. The brass, 80s grooves and slick bass-line have the same sonic aesthetics as Bruno Mars’ surprisingly enjoyable last album. As with everything here, it’s very much the Lizzo show. The way her voice drips with so much attitude in the pre-chorus is a rush. The joyful abandon of the funky two-part chorus is so pleasing, it’s a mystery why ‘Juice’ hasn’t been a worldwide number one single. Just three songs in, Lizzo demonstrates what a versatile and expressive performer she is.
Lizzo flirts with her hip-hop past on her ode to self-love, ‘Soul Mate’. Her rapid fire rapping oozes charisma before a soulful chorus kicks in — “I’m my own soulmate, I know how to love me, I know that I’m always gonna hold me down”. Lizzo often has retro leanings such as the slow soul ballad ‘Jerome’ (which is a cousin to Rihanna’s ‘Love On The Brain’), but she also explores futuristic pop. The stabs of guitars on ‘Crybaby’ are pure St. Vincent and sound just as fresh. ‘Tempo’ begins with a shredding guitar before switching to a sparse electro banger.It’s a callback to the early 2000s, when The Neptunes and Timbaland made pop sound like the future. It features a thrilling cameo from one of Lizzo’s key influences, Missy Elliott (a great performance to recover from sleepwalking her way through the recent Ariana Grande guest verse).
The songs zip by excitingly, with Lizzo barely pausing to catch her breath. ‘Exactly How I Feel’ has a playful bass-line and bright synths rooted in the best of 80s funk. Gucci Mane riffs off Lizzo’s animated good-time grooves perfectly with his energized verse. It’s hard to picture how anyone could possibly not be rooting for her as Lizzo belts out, “love me or hate me, ooh I ain’t changing and I don’t give a f**k”..
‘Heaven Help Me’ has a persistent 70s piano riff and trap beat that gives the perfect backing for the vocals that bounce between impassioned gospel and her distinctive rapping style. After two minutes, the song’s lavish coda takes it to another level with blissful strings and mellow organ playing. Lizzo also gets to show off her impressive flute skills. The slinky neo-soul of ‘Lingerie’ is a chilled-out closer and is Lizzo at her most revealing — “so I lounge around in my lingerie babe, I wanna be prepared for you just in case”. It’s a euphoric moment when the Prince-styled guitar appears for the key change.
What makes Cuz I Love You such a pleasurable listen is that regardless of the genre Lizzo tackles, everything is carefully pinned together by her enchanting personality. Her confidence and character transcend the songs themselves. She knows this is her moment and she’s taking it head on, and appears to be having a blast. ‘Juice’ got her foot in the door of the top 40, and this ridiculously catchy and life-affirming record should make her the star she’s destined to be.