Solange takes a successful step back with “When I Get Home”

Resulting in a modern, off the cuff and unrestrained take on R&B ★★★

Claude Brun, Staff Reporter

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The latest album from former Destiny’s Child member Solange Knowles, “When I Get Home,” takes a more toned down approach compared to her last album, “A Seat at the Table.” Her new album is made up of a series of relaxed and repetitive vibes over the more introspective approach taken on her previous project. While it lacks much of the grandeur, it makes up for this by presenting a remarkably cohesive and listenable experience, complete with several excellent features and guest production from Tyler, the Creator, Pharrell Williams, and Dev Hynes (Blood Orange), to name a few.

The production is delightfully groovy while maintaining a relaxed mood throughout. Tyler, the Creator’s contributions add a lot of character to the project, bringing synths and keys heavily reminiscent of his most recent project “Flower Boy.” The drums stand out especially, with clear mixing and unusual patterns. The beats often take inspiration from jazz and trap, mixing these influences effortlessly to create a delightfully rich, yet restrained sound palette that sounds familiar and experimental at the same time.

While Solange’s voice may not stand out much from others in the R&B genre, the way she manages to flow over the beats is impressively slick. The vocals may often be very repetitive, but this just goes to highlight the dreamy atmosphere that the album successfully achieves. She effortlessly glides over each beat without distracting from their lush simplicity, resulting in a soundscape that feels cohesive, relaxing and rich.

Pharrell Williams has production credits on several songs, “Almeda” being one of the most notable. The beat comes with his trademark eclecticism, but with a more toned down manner compared with much of his work. Playboi Carti’s verse on this track also works surprisingly well with Solange’s vocals, despite taking a drastically different approach.

“Binz” is another highlight, with Solange bringing dub-inspired, almost rapped verses to make it one of the most unique cuts on the tracklist. Panda Bear, of Animal Collective, also contributes yet another impressively groovy and infectious beat to the album.

While “A Seat at the Table” was largely focused on delivering a well spoken message in a more traditional R&B album style, “When I Get Home” sounds like Solange is just singing what she feels, resulting in a more off the cuff, stream of consciousness style. While it may seem to some as a step back in ambition, that’s not such a bad thing, as she’s crafted an irresistibly catchy and unrestrained R&B album.

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