It’s been five long years since SZA released “Ctrl,” a debut album that instantly made her R&B’s It girl. Since then, she’s had hit collabs with Kendrick Lamar (2018’s “Black Panther” single “All the Stars”) and Doja Cat (2021’s Grammy-winning “Kiss Me More”), but the wait is finally over for her sophomore set with “SOS,” which dropped Friday — hot off of the singer’s “Saturday Night Live” appearance last weekend.
Here are seven highlights of one of the most anticipated albums of the year.
“I might kill my ex/I still love him though,” coos SZA on this midtempo bop that, while name-checking the 2003 Quentin Tarantino bloodfest, captures the conflicted feelings we all have about that no-good boo that we just can’t quit.
“I ain’t no Julia Stiles/This ain’t no last dance/Way past it,” sings SZA, making yet another movie reference — this time to 2001’s “Save the Last Dance” — on this breakup ballad that is a vision of acoustic-guitar-laced beauty.
Is SZA angling for a movie career? Because for a third time on “SOS” she makes a direct film reference — here to the 2014 Ben Affleck thriller. Singing about needing her space — “Squeezing too tight, boy, you losing me” — over a moody groove, she flips the usual script on the dudes.
“Ghost in the Machine”
There’s a haunting atmosphere to much of “SOS,” and never more so than on the spooky electro-soul of this vibe-out with alt-rock breakout Phoebe Bridgers.
“Nobody Gets Me”
Veering from funky to folky, SZA has a Taylor Swift moment on an acoustic guitar ballad that showcases the stripped-down sweetness of her voice. With no place to hide at her most vulnerable, you really get her.
The boom and skittering bounce of this track is the kind of hypnotic hip-hop that fits SZA like the “comfort in my sins.”
“I Hate U”
SZA walks the thin line between love and hate as she faces the trippy truth about being “lost in the lie of us.”