Some of SZA’s best songs sound like buzzing rants in front of the mirror: dissociative and confrontational, striking at truths a little too stark to handle sober. “Why can’t I just stay by myself? I wish I was comfortable alone, ”he lamented himself in CONTROL opens “Supermodel”, setting a relationship on fire but still unable to move on. On “Drew Barrymore”: “I feel so alone I forget my worth.” Half a decade later, SZA still hangs out with exes he has no business entertaining and cringes at the consequences, longing for the self-sufficiency that would save him from his pain. The reputational damage lingers like a hangover: “My past can’t escape me / My pussy precedes me,” he sings on “Blind,” a ravishing piece from his new album. CALL FOR HELP. Shit! They hate to see a sexually liberated woman from New Jersey win.
SZA is as real and stylistically electric as ever on “Blind,” reflecting on lush violins and the delicate guitars of a Sufjan Stevens song, walking on tiptoe like a ballerina en pointe. How long will vulnerability be rewarded with abandonment? Where is the refuge for intense women to rest their weary minds? He walks the same corners, unable to resist a man’s toxic antics or a good ’90s reference; she is humiliated for being and wanting too much. “It’s so embarrassing / all the things I need living inside of me,” she sings. With a cascade of vocal runs in his golden falsetto, SZA alchemizes the beauty of agitation, turning illusion and oblivion into a divine revelation.