Music Album Review: Nightride by Tinashe

Can you still dream if your eyes are open?

The logical, immediate answer is yes – take a look around any classroom and at least one person’s glazed-over eyes will tip one off to the fact that yes, whether one’s eyelids are shut or not is completely independent of whether they are mentally present.

But can you still have the dream experience? Can you look around and see the world’s hazy lines and illogical discrepancies that once recognized the taut, delicate strings holding reality together break and the whole structure comes crumbling down?

Yes. If Tinashe’s new album, Nightride is any indication, you can return to the dream state even in your daylight hours.

Just look at the track names: “Lucid Dreaming,” “Spacetime,” and “C’est La Vie.” Already the mood is set for one of the dreamiest album you’ve ever listened to – but there’s a reason why dreams are only eight hours long.

Altogether, her album is too heavy for light listening. There are too few moments of respite or true ecstasy to make Tinashe’s brilliant, yet at times overdone, musical style bearable for very long.

Overdone, not in terms of production, but because listening to this album feels like crying – painful, hard-to-breathe crying, and I feel like I’m trying to swim in a suffocating ocean of warm melted amber and seeing the world around me through its undulations.

And, of course, everything is illuminated with her brilliance. This ocean of amber is teeming with her indisputable musical talent that makes this album one of the best ones I’ve listened to in a long while. Who else can blend elements of chip tune in with R&B? Only Tinashe.

Yet, surprisingly, her talent has not allowed her the same mainstream success as other artists. Although she has had critical acclaim with her 2014 Aquarius and one mainstream hit “2 On,” not much else has stuck.

In an interview with XONecole, Tinashe said, “I think it comes from a place of there is only room for one. Or there is only room for two…There is a Beyoncé, there is a Rihanna, there is Zendaya, there is a Jourdan Dunn. There is a black girl in all of these positions and we don’t need another one… There can’t be room (for us all).”

Maybe this is a fact she’s resigned to. Although Nightride as a whole is very good, none of the songs could exactly be considered earworms. They’re too much of a drag, they’re too smart, they’re too much for the average listener.

And yet – the last of “Sacrifices” fades out, its chords going around in circles. And she whispers “I will not be ignored.”