Snoh Aalegra’s insightful lyricism paired with smooth instrumentals make for a heartfelt reflection on the anxiety surrounding ambiguous relationships and fear of commitment.
The Iranian-Swedish singer-songwriter first broke out with 2017’s FEELS, an exploration of identity that encouraged praise from critics and musical contemporaries alike, one shining example being Prince who mentored her before his passing away. Two years later, she returns with a collection of songs that conjure the image of an outsider coming into their own and learning to love oneself while others slip away.
The album’s title says it all: - Ugh, those feels again is an immediately relatable sentiment, a reluctance to put oneself through the difficulty of falling in love once more. Aalegra vocals are characterised by sultry tones and an old-school R&B husk, paired with an effortless coolness. Yet there’s a vulnerability to her lyrics from the beginning, as filtered vocals open the album with the line, “Even if we catch the sunrise/ It's only a moment passing us by.”
This theme of uncertainty carries throughout. The track “I Want You Around” features smooth jazz instrumentals while Aalgra’s voice glides through singing, “All I wanna hear is Innervisions on replay / And sit right next to you, you / I try not to show how I feel about you / Thinkin' we should wait, but we don't really want to.” The anxiety of letting a guard down seems echoed in “Situationship” which draws on images of ambiguity, and not wanting to make a wrong move, “The moment I met you, I knew I would let you down/ And so many times you and I made love in my mind, don’t wanna regret you.”
Nevertheless, there are moments of strength that shine through. “Nothing to Me” acts a conversation, as she reassures herself, “Why you always say you ready for me? That ain’t it / When you know you ain’t ready for me. That ain’t it / We aint friends, if we fucking homie. That ain’t it / Come around and don’t do nothing for me. That ain’t it.” Playing with repetition and stop-start pacing to really, she creates an anthem of consolation and self-worth.
With buttery vocals and perfectly-paired suave jazz instrumentals, - Ugh, those feels again is slick in its depiction of enigmatic love. While it may not be breaking boundaries sonically, the album’s saving grace is Aalegra’s thoughtful lyricism in which she encapsulates fear, loss, heartbreak and self-growth with tenacity and an empathetic tone.