I decided that despite some serious mark missing (like the album's entire last half), I can't truly dislike Solange's new album. I really only like three songs (the Motown steeped first single "I Decided," the clever Cee-Lo co-penned "TONY" and the bittersweet and gorgeous "I Would've Been the 1"), but I still can't dismiss the effort. At it's best, this album is glossy, fresh and snappy, and at it's worst, it needs better arrangement and production.
She's the slightly left of center younger sister of a bonafied pop queen, and that's evident. But she is also her own artist, and that's evident on this album as well. And although she is only 22, the girl knows a thing or two about the ins and outs of relationships, and that comes across lyrically. She got pregnant, married and divorced all before she was old enough to drink, and this album is not just typical post-teenage warbling. It's all her. And I commend that. Not to mention she's somewhat of an underdog: she had a dream team of producers and collaborators (Pharell, Raphael Saadiq, Cee-Lo, Bilal and Mark Ronson to name a few) but she had to basically beg most of them to work with her. That sounds sad, but in a way, it's actually great. I guess being Beyonce's baby sister does not guarantee much in the way of star treatment.
Ultimately, Solange herself puts it best: "I was a little different/I didn't do what the fast girls do/Study my rhythm, you can speed me up when you want to." She's trying, she's branching out, and hopefully, her next release will perfectly execute this album's ambitious vision of a "'60s/70s vintage soul record with hints of electronica." I look forward to it.