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

Tkay Maidza’s Sweet Justice is miraculous, genre-blending art pop

"Sweet Justice"

Release date: 03 November 2023
Tkay Maidza Sweet Justice cover
01 November 2023, 09:00 Written by Noah Barker

The quality of music in a year is often inversely proportional to how unrelentingly terrible it was to live through – lo and behold, the 2020s are the new 1970s.

Australian rapper/producer/pop-goddess Tkay Maidza has been on a hot streak over the past tumultuous years like the Nick Castellanos of music: every time we throw up our hands and beg for a meteor the size of Texas, she’s there making hits. ‘Hits’ seems understated. If I had to challenge Death on a beach to a songwriting contest in a battle for my immortal soul, I would draft Maidza with my first breath. She has a restless creative vision consisting of glitchy rap, ornate and funky R&B, and the type of pop sensibility Max Martin would blush in the direction of. Nobody crafts a song like Maidza.

Her Last Year Was Weird EP trilogy certainly lived up to its moniker across the Trump and COVID years, and her return to traditional albums on Sweet Justice is no less fitting. It is her most assured and confident release thus far, one that is unmistakably underpinned by an ebbing sea of brittle anxiety. For as prickly sweet and lovesick as much of the tracklist is, this is pop music at the precipice of something, whether that be the end or a new beginning. Abstract philosophizing aside, Sweet Justice remains as immediately gratifying as the rest of her catalogue; its rapping is smoother, its hooks are catchier, and its instrumentals more fine-tuned and studied. This is a blockbuster outing for an artist who spent the last five years proving their merit in the short form.

If there is anything to qualify the unduly praise Maidza rightly deserves for this project it is the slight snag in pacing the record finds itself chugging along within at around the halfway point. The virtue of EP releases is that breakneck pacing is easily attainable and encouraged by their brevity, however, Sweet Justice’s forlorn middle section goes from the Audubon to a school zone and back again for the record’s final leg. It is no small consolation that her tender moments are more compelling and layered than they ever have been, but compared to the cocaine rush of “Out of Luck” and “Silent Assassin,” downtime could have been more sparingly incorporated.

In other news for her album pacing, opener “Love and Other Drugs” may be the best first impression a record has achieved in 2023. The refrain of “Love, sex, drugs / Pick your poison, if you must,” encircles the listener like the hypnotic temptation it is, alongside rushes of distant noise. It is both the ominous oncoming and the unmistakably now, as she entices with present vice, the future is felt reverberating. The track, and the record as a whole, functions as both a lesson for current coping mechanisms and a subtle signifier that the worst may be to come. The world ending then means two things: it’s time to sell your stock investments and music will be ever sweeter.

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