Greg Noire for iHeartRadio Photo: In fact, along with the facial expressions, the moves, choreographed by Sherrie Silver, may have been a main focal point of the video.
But even then, Tinashe is on a major label, you would think there'd be more of a marketing push to break her into the spotlight Okay, I'm going to try to be as charitable as possible to this project.
So I'm treating this like the leaner, standalone project where you can tell the label is pulling out about half of the necessary stops to get it to market and sell, even though with the guest stars it might be a losing battle at this point. And saying all that, while there are still problems with this project that have sadly been consistent with Tinashe's albums And the fact I'm singling out individual songs more than anything on this project is indicative of the first of those consistent issues: Some have highlighted this as Tinashe not seeming to have a distinctive identity, but as a singer that doesn't seem to be true on Joyride - more than ever her restrained but elastic cooing allows her to bend her vocal range from chill sensuality to a slightly more ragged and expressive intensity, and depending on how her multi-tracking is arranged, she's arguably more effective in this lane than she's ever been before.
Hell, across the best cuts here you could argue it's the vocal arrangement that's given Tinashe the most personality she's ever had, especially when the harmonies are more lush and delicate - if I was recommending this record at all it'd be for the vocal arrangements. The larger problem is that, just like on Nightride, none of the assorted producers across this record gives her anything close to consistent vocal production, and when you factor in guest performers as well and an increasingly broad selection of styles, it makes a performer who does have a defined presence seem less distinct.
From the super-clean vocal pickup of 'No Drama', 'Me So Bad', and 'Faded Love' - likely to facilitate guest verses that add nothing - to the oddly grainy pickup of 'Stuck With Me' which features Little Dragon in an arrangement that's not so much clashing but not really mixing, even where Tinashe gets multi-tracking the fidelity of her tone is all over the place.
And while sometimes you get arrangements that can surpass a flattened filter like on 'No Contest' with its sharper, wiry bounce or the title track, which easily has some of the most momentum but has this really ugly oily film on top of the synth line, she honestly sounds her best on the closing piano ballad 'Fires And Flames', where she gets the space and light touch for the smoother tones to really come through.
And I won't deny that some of this might come down to production budgets, especially when it comes to the glassy layers that get tacked on to 'He Don't Want It' or especially the interlude 'Ain't Good For Ya', or how her voice tops out in the former song - that's bad mixing, and there's not many excuses for that.
Hell, if you want an example of how slightly rougher vocal production can work, look at the dank, bluesy vibe of 'Salt' - the vocal line is a little flatter, but it still opens up just enough to let Tinashe's richer lower register come through - which means there's not much of an excuse for the spots that do feel slapdash!
And really, I'm focusing so much on the vocal arrangements and production because beyond it, this record can feel really thin - muted synths, occasionally hints of liquid guitar or a violin on the title track, trap beats that nearly all sound flat and lacking better fidelity or blending, and songwriting that sadly doesn't add up to much.
That's the other thing, believe it or not, which convinces me that Tinashe does have something of a defined identity, because even if I find nearly all of these songs lacking in greater detail or feeling underwritten - she has multiple hooks where she just sings la-la-la or stutters words to fill up space - it is at least consistent in that lane, both in writing style and subject matter.
It's a little single-minded in its pursuit of hookups, sure, but at its best Tinashe at least seems self-aware how this freewheeling approach can have consequences, and she doesn't shy away from facing them, from the expectations of disaster on 'Stuck With Me' to the genuine tension that comes from 'Keep Your Eyes On The Road' and the title track.
What gets interesting is when you get songs with a little more detail, like 'Salt' where it seems pretty apparent this relationship was not built to last, but she doesn't want said ex being a dick in their departure.
Or take 'Fires And Flames', where the partner is self-destructive and she's trying to coax him down for one last night, but you get the impression between the lines that she's probably going to wind up leaving in the end, maybe even before that final night.
Granted, I'm relying on vocal personality to convey more details and subtlety than the actual words themselves, and to Tinashe's credit, outside of the goofy hook of 'Me So Bad' she never really embarrasses herself in her writing.
What I'd argue hurts her more is that without stronger pop hooks or presence, the basics just aren't as gripping to many, and you find yourself looking for more complexity that might not be there.
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