Best Album of 2022

SOS by SZA: The long-awaited album lives up to expectations and presents a myriad of turbulent emotions.

The perfect breakup album of 2022 has finally been released: SZA’s SOS. Following her last album Ctrl, the alternative R&B artist SZA has ended her five year hiatus and returned to the music scene with her new anthology of self-loving, emotional, and overall sob-worthy songs. With 23 hits ranging across a myriad of genres, SZA manages to sublimely convey the emotional rollercoaster after a messy breakup. 

The album’s emphasis on self-reflection is symbolized on the album cover, where SZA sits on a white diving board overlooking rocky waves. The title, SOS, serves as a heartbreaking call for help, and SZA charges her listeners through her internal conflict for an hour and eight minutes of melodic crisis. 

The comeback album of the year starts with the title track, “SOS.” The sound of a sonogram plays, followed by the shooting of a flare signal introducing a sweet refrain of joyful trumpets and gospel choir vocals in the background singing, “Last night, I cried.” 

SZA finally blesses her listeners with her first two lyrics: “Give me a second, give me a minute,” a phrase speculated to be in response to rushing a breakup—or addressed to her fans that have been begging her for years to release new music! In the following lyrics, she describes her mental state, providing a messy but complete thesis of the album ahead. 

Following the title track, the next two songs, “Kill Bill” and “Seek and Destroy,” provide raw pieces of anger and jealousy. “Kill Bill” begins with a classic R&B sound, the chorus stating, “I might kill my ex, not my best idea. His new girlfriend’s next… I still love him though, rather be in jail than alone.” 

“Seek and Destroy,” although similar to its predecessor, lacks the desire to be in the relationship seen in “Kill Bill.” Instead, SZA seems to come to terms with the fact that she doesn’t need him. 

She then flips the script with her songs “Ghost in the Machine (feat. Phoebe Bridgers),” “Nobody Gets Me,” “Special,” and “Far,” which all still contain her familiar tear-jerking lyrics. The mood changes one more time, however, with joyful lyrics about self-love in “Conceited” and “Good Days.” 

The only real critique of the album is its lack of structural narrative, an area in which SZA usually displays strength–the confusing choice of song placement was a surprise to many. For example, SZA chose to place the song “Conceited,” a happy song full of self-confidence, between “Nobody Gets Me” and “Special,” two songs fans have been dubbing her most depressing. 

But maybe SZA’s lack of structure when weaving her songs together represents the theme of the album as a whole: going through a breakup is messy, it’s filled with unpredictable shifts in mood, and sometimes all you’re looking forward to are those “Good Days.”