Beyoncé’s hipper sister shows off her skewed pop chops
If you were going to build the perfect pop star, you’d put her in the coolest family but make her the rebel, the one who smoked weed in their youth and listened to Rick Ross and Dirty Projectors. You’d give her hipster mates, like Olly XX and Dev ‘Blood Orange’ Hynes, and a singing voice like Diana Ross high on crack. Friends, meet Solange Knowles, Beyoncé’s sister and the definition of pop perfection.
The 26-year-old is not a hit-making pop star, but an antidote to pop homogenisation; something that sounds different to everything on the radio, but could still be on the radio.On that front, ‘True’ delivers. Produced by Dev, it’s drenched in ’80s pop – crappy Casio drum sounds, cheesy Hans Zimmer synth and wandering fretless bass. At times it feels unprofessional, as if Dev programmed a drum machine and then just let the tape run. But for the most part, particularly on ‘Don’t Let Me Down’, the production is punchy, poignant and lets Solange’s ghostly gospel vocals shimmer.
Where 2008’s ‘Sol-Angel And The Hadley St Dreams’ was vaguely autobiographical, this record is driven by break-ups and ultimatums. Sometimes they’re crushing, as on the single ‘Losing You’, when Solange tells her love “We used to kiss all night but now it’s just no use”, or ‘Some Things Never Seem To Fucking Work’ when heartbreak has turned to contempt: “So baby is that all you’ve got?/Tell me if you get some more”. Love has to be earned on this EP.
It showcases Solange’s experimentation at its best, but is only a prelude to a full album in 2013. For that, the only thing to expect is something very different.