Rina Sawayama - Hold The Girl
Sep 16, 2022 (updated Sep 24, 2022)
85
While “Hold The Girl” may not quite reach the level of her debut record for me and may not take as many creative risks, it’s still a really great pop album that showcases what makes Rina Sawayama such a compelling and refreshing figure in pop music.

I was introduced to Rina with her debut album “SAWAYAMA”, which was a fantastic pop record and one of my favorite albums of 2020. I thought she did a great job at blending genres and balancing making forward-thinking pop music while still building on catchy and classic pop sounds. I was really excited to see where she would go next, and I was hoping that she would maybe start to gain the commercial success she deserved. And on “Hold The Girl”, it feels like she is definitely trying more to get that commercial success. But I’m perfectly fine with that, because I really like the result.

“Hold The Girl” is certainly not on the same level as her debut, but that doesn’t mean that this album doesn’t have some great things going for it. And while the reaction to this album has been overall pretty positive, I have seen quite a lot of disappointment. And I get that. And in that way, the discussion around this album has been very reminiscent to me of “CRASH” by Charli XCX’s reaction. And for me, my initial reaction to the rollout, singles, and first listen to the album was similar: I was underwhelmed. But as I sat with both albums, they both started to grow on me more and more and I kept returning to so many songs on both albums. And what I’ve realized is that while neither project may be as experimental or adventurous as they could have been or as I would have liked, they don’t necessarily have to be for them to still be compelling pop albums. Because while I do have issues with this album, I still love so much about it and so many songs here. Is this album as creative or artistically interesting as her debut? No. But I still think Rina comes through with some of the best pop music I’ve heard this year. The production, while doing a lot and could be considering “overproduction”, really works for me and sets a great foundation for Rina’s incredible vocals. And while her songwriting and the production as a whole may not live up to her debut and may not take as many risks and go in as many crazy directions, it’s still just so solid and so well done that it provides for some great pop music in the process. So while I see the disappointment from some people and I understand it to an extent, I still just like so much about this album and get so much enjoyment from it that it doesn’t really matter to me at the end of the day.

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