Search The Line of Best Fit
Search The Line of Best Fit

SZA hits the heights on the dense but masterful SOS



Release date: 09 December 2022
SZA SOS Album Art
09 December 2022, 00:00 Written by Ims Taylor

At the same time supremely confident and quietly tentative, SZA’s return is a bold one.

In the five years since its release, her debut CTRL has ascended to classic status, going down as one of the decade’s best and cementing SZA’s voice at the forefront of contemporary R&B, and of pop – she joined fellow pop and R&B icon Doja Cat for "Kiss Me More," which became one of 2021’s biggest songs. She dropped "Good Days," the lead single from SOS way back in December 2020 and it joined "Kiss Me More" on the 2021 top songs charts… you see the trend. Anything SZA does hits the heights. That’s why it’s intriguing (and exciting) to see that SOS comprises of a generous 23 tracks. There’s just no way for every track to be single-sized. There must be some surprises buried within the runtime. And of course, SZA delivers.

SOS is a staggeringly confident record, all in SZA’s familiar playground of lush and vibrant R&B. Singles “Good Days,” “I Hate You,” and “Shirt” are all instrumentally rich, vocally excellent masterclasses, but more impressive is the fact that they manage to blend in seamlessly to the rest of SOS, on which there are perhaps more than ten more songs that could have been singles to lead the record. “Kill Bill” is witty and vulnerable with its spiteful, sometime-relatable (if we admit it), ex-revenge plotline and has the woozy sonics to back it up; “Conceited” swings back the other way with sensual swagger and one of the record’s most buoyant vibes. But SZA doesn’t let any of SOS’s myriad highlights compete with each other – they don’t need to.

SZA’s appeal, and indeed the appeal that saw CTRL enter the permanent frequent rotation of most who listened to it, is her emotional aptitude for being vulnerable and playful at the same time, and SOS continues on the same path. There are absolutely five years, probably more, worth of life in the depths of the album. It’s maybe not for one review to pick apart what listeners may find in SOS, because it’s ripe for personal connection to be found within its stories, but it’s definitely to be lauded that SZA chose some of the best in the game to join her in weaving her emotive web. Notably, cropping up on “Ghost in the Machine,” it’s only Phoebe Bridgers – her contribution immediately intoxicating in the moody, moonbeam guitar tones. The song is dark and ethereal enough, but Bridgers, like SZA, has one of the most immediately recognisable voices in music. As the two intertwine, the solar and lunar blend makes for one of SOS’s most gorgeous moments, and it’s followed up by “F2F” which is a fabulously pulled off straight-up rock song. The range.

Did SOS need to be 23 tracks long? Not really. However it doesn’t feel like SZA is trying to make the blueprint for the album arc – she’s making a SZA album, no one else's. It’s something self-indulgent that few could get away with, but every song finds its place effortlessly. So, rather than feeling too self-indulgent, it feels far more like we’re the lucky ones SZA has chosen to share so much with.

Share article

Get the Best Fit take on the week in music direct to your inbox every Friday

Read next