Here’s another one attempting to launch Tinashe’s eternally delayed Joyride album. It is so delayed, in fact, that the singer-songwriter dropped an album (or mixtape or... whatever it is) called Nightride in November containing many tracks originally announced for Joyride. (To Rolling Stone, Tinashe described Nightride and Joyride as “two things that are equally the same.” Well sure, except one has actually seen the light of day.) The strange release of Nightride and Tinashe’s pattern over the last two years of throwing singles against the wall to see if one sticks is endemic of the state of the music industry. It seems like a documentary on Tinashe’s plight would make for a great time-capsule. Someone should get on that—Tinashe has been plenty honest about her frustrations.
Anyway, “Flame.” It sounds like a cross between Ellie Goulding’s “Burn” and Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space.” My body wanted to reject it, but by mid-song it had accepted its catchiness. It’s utterly safe, something that wouldn’t disrupt anyone in a doctor’s waiting room, and while that may be disappointing coming from an artist who’s clearly invested in pushing the sonic envelope in R&B, it’s an understandable move. Tinashe’s bonkers singles “Party Favors” and “Company” proved that making avant pop (at sort of a midpoint between FKA twigs’ aesthetic and what’s considered accessible in the mainstream) got her precisely nowhere. And so she’s here.