Syd – Broken Hearts Club’ review: arguably the R&B star’s strongest project to date

Album two was conceived as a collection of love songs – until heartache struck. The result oscillates between braggadocio and deep intimacy

On her second album, ‘Broken Hearts Club’, Californian artist Syd has crafted a vulnerable, introspective project that further cements her position as an R&B innovator. The 29-year-old artist has taken a detour from her previous work – be its as a solo star, a member of alt-R&B group The Internet and formerly of rap rabble-rousers Odd Future – towards a path that only she can walk down, as she sensitively explores a gamut of emotions underpinned by exemplary production. The result is a remarkable album.

Initially written as a project full of love songs, ‘Broken Hearts Club’ was completed after the relationship Syd was trying to capture came to a painful end. The eventual outcome dovetails neatly between the two bookends of a relationship – being in and out of love. Featuring the American rapper Smino, fellow Californian artist Kehlani as well as frequent collaborators Steve Lacy and Nicky Davey, Syd makes room for the likes of rising talent Brandon Shoop alongside Grammy-winning acts Troy Taylor, G Koop and Darkchild.

“If I ever make you mine, need to know if you’re the type / Do me wrong or do me right,” Syd sings in the opening bars of opening track ‘CYBAH’. A collaboration with Louisiana singer Lucky Daye, the song captures the anxious, jittery feelings of first being in love and the uneasiness of being vulnerable with another person, encapsulating the album.

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The lyrics feel more mature than those of ‘Fin’, Syd’s 2017 debut, and oscillate between braggadocio – “Maybe you should stay the night / Promise it’ll change your life” she flexes on the summery ‘Right Track’ – and sultry, more saccharine moments on the second half of the project. Throughout the album, the instrumentation is crisp and refined, the production stripped-back and bare, allowing the lyrics to float, shimmering above the beat to invite the listener to pay closer attention.

Like ‘Right Track’ and ‘CYBAH’, ‘Tie The Knot’ and ‘Fast Car’ are pop-infused sensations. On the latter, a slinky, ‘90s R&B piano riffs sit neatly alongside funky guitar solos, while the album glides towards the smoky sultriness of ‘Control’ and ‘No Way’. The warmth of ‘Getting Late’ and the aforementioned Kehlani-featuring ‘Out Loud’ make for an intimate end to what is arguably Syd’s strongest project to date.

With ‘Broken Hearts Club’, Syd has crafted an album that elevates her to new heights – one that positions her as an exceptional, peerless talent.

Details

Release date: April 8

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