Over a combined set of graceful percussions and aggressive beats, Sza’s Ctrl album goes above and beyond the R&B standard with its mix of rhythm, pop and trap sounds. Overall, it is an unbalanced wave of hollow tones and echoes, but with a mean bass and soul-stirring ranges; like spoken-word poetry with a subtle message and bold sound. Sza gives an unfiltered view on the romance of this era, down to the need for love, the want to be seen, and the desire to be felt.
Tracks like “Supermodel” speak to a woman who will do anything to take matters into her own hands, even if that means using her own recklessness as revenge. But that message is compromised with songs like “The Weekend,” which tells what it’s like for a girl to simply settle for a man who doesn’t fully belong to her, rather than a man who doesn’t have to be shared with everyone else. In “Love Galore,” Sza and Travis Scott tell the hammering story of an ex lurking in her shadow, just as “Broken Clocks” unfolds the story of a former love that still troubles her mind at the moment. “Doves in the Wind” indiscreetly reminds her listeners of sexual freedom. It praises those who embrace the power of pussy and shames those who don’t recognize the sacredness of it. The feeling of inadequacy, in terms of satisfying a man, bleeds through Sza’s track, “Garden,” while “Drew Barrymore” conceptualizes loneliness making a woman want to be loved to the point where she forgets how worthy she is of getting what she deserves. However, “Prom” lets the listeners know that although she is still unclear about the extent of her self-worth, she is still a woman who’s evolving into what she wants to be and is confident in that journey. Similarly, in “Normal Girl,” she reveals her desire to be secure in herself and normal, something that has yet to happen entirely.
On this album, Sza shows us a young woman, who is sure of herself in more ways than one but is still searching for missing pieces to fit the puzzle of her identity. She straddles the fence with relationships that either has her craving love, targets her insecurities, or leaves her wanting nothing more than a meaningless fling. The entire project is sung with such a soulful voice and bold spirit, both used to reel listeners into a relatable story. Throughout the album, her story reflects the struggle to find security in oneself while searching for the love of another; choosing to submit or choosing to play the tit-for-tat game; the bliss of love and the aftermath of heartbreak. Each track tells a story within itself and every conceptualized message peels another layer back of who Sza really is. You discover who is she is a new woman and how she has evolved as an artist. I feel like this album gave her the platform to tell who she is and simultaneously reveal who she wishes to be. But nonetheless, every emotion and drawn out situation, within every song, is sung with a sense of control and realism. She uses emotive language as a sound reflection of her thoughts. Three words to describe Ctrl… Raw. Honest. Daring.