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JoJo - Trying Not to Think About It Music Album Reviews

JoJo - Trying Not to Think About It Music Album Reviews
On her rawest and most cohesive project to date, the pop singer explores themes of depression and anxiety but too often relies on familiar imagery.

JoJo knows you remember her. She can’t outrun the early 2000s nostalgia that her name and music immediately triggers; she has strained to articulate her identity as an artist, separate from her past success. She was 13 when she became the youngest person to top the Billboard charts with 2004’s “Leave (Get Out),” a supremely catchy earworm that’s aged into a glittering karaoke staple; her next album, 2006’s The High Road, brought the sleek breakup track “Too Little Too Late.” Then came a nearly decade-long legal battle: She sued her former label, Blackground, and was barred from releasing new music or placing her old music on streaming services. (Taylor Swift even invited her over to offer advice on navigating the industry.)

In 2014, she finally broke free from her label contract. She dabbled in electropop on her long-awaited third album in 2016, then launched her own imprint with Warner and released a slinky R&B record in 2020, crooning alongside Tinashe and Demi Lovato, two fellow veterans of young fame. That same year, she won her first Grammy for a fleeting feature on a treacly PJ Morton song, an achievement that could have tipped her back into splashy pop and widespread radio play.

Instead, JoJo has quietly crafted what she calls a “capsule project,” an elegant EP with deliberate and defined parameters. The music on Trying Not to Think About It is meant to portray the singer’s struggles with anxiety and depression: These are soft, cozy songs, with harmonies tucked between trickling piano keys and misty synths. “I hope this feels like a warm weighted blanket,” she told MTV, and the 12-track project plays like her most cohesive release yet. She constructs and curates a delicate feeling of intimacy, instructing us to exhale at the end of “Good Enough *interlude*,” like the narrator of a meditation app. On “Anxiety (Burlinda’s Theme),” she personifies her mental illness, addressing it in the second person: “You only show up when it’s inconvenient,” she belts over a building drumbeat. “Your power is amazing!” Elsewhere, she sings about slow, quiet collapse and the feeling of being drained. “The energy that it takes to be somebody just ain’t in me,” she murmurs over finger snaps on “Fresh New Sheets,” pleading to stay curled up with her space heater.

“Fresh New Sheets” is one of many moments that strains to be relatable, but the cutesy specificity can sound retrofitted from a meme or a tweet. She croons a jazzy ode to the comforts of “sugar and carbs”; she blames Mercury in retrograde. On “Spiral SZN,” a snappy pop track with blaring bass, she brands herself as someone who just “can’t chill,” tidying up the ache she articulates elsewhere. For too much of the record, JoJo relies on familiar metaphors: storms roaring in her brain, lovers shedding their skin, sunrise waiting on the horizon. Her vulnerability is commendable—this is the rawest she has ever been in her music—but she weakens the impact when she couches her confessions in worn imagery. It’s shallow writing about an inherently deep topic.

JoJo is still at her best when she’s at her most cutting, leveling the sting at herself. “Do I love you this much/Or is this just something to do?” she sings on “Feel Alright,” as her voice stretches into a howl. She makes her frustration palpable, sounding furious at her own self-sabotage. On “Good Enough,” her layered vocals swirl as she asks, over and over, if she can live up to her perfectionist standards, if she can ever find herself acceptable.

These songs feel less insightful, however, when you slot them into the long lineage of pop-adjacent artists musing about mental health. As the stigma finally, gradually starts to ebb, a wave of artists are singing about depression and anxiety, sometimes directly and sometimes draped in irony: “All the kids are depressed,” Jeremy Zucker hums; “I’m holding hands with my depression,” Julia Michaels rasps; “I feel like giving up,” Shawn Mendes wails. JoJo’s contributions succeed when her songs feel like snapshots, documenting her internal tension. She doesn’t stun us with insight and she doesn’t describe mental illness in a new or novel way. Instead, she offers a graceful portrait of a hidden battle, with the hope that someone hearing it might feel less alone.

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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
JoJo - Trying Not to Think About It Music Album Reviews JoJo - Trying Not to Think About It Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Friday, October 22, 2021 Rating: 5

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