Victoria Monet – JAGUAR

22 Dec

Chances are, you’ve heard the handiwork of singer-songwriter Victoria Monet even if you’ve never heard of her before. The prolific pop creator has had her hand in recent hits such as “Ice Cream” by BLACKPINK and Selena Gomez and “Do It” by breakout sibling duo Chloe x Halle. Most notably, Monet has been a direct contributor to most of Ariana Grande’s recent output of singles, from “7 Rings” to “NASA” to “Thank U Next“. (Indeed, Monet was herself one of the recipients of Ari’s seven rings – apparently the song is based on a real story.)

On debut album JAGUAR, Victoria Monet finally steps out of the shadows of the Arianas and Selenas of the world, and comes into her own. The result is one of the smoothest, best-produced pop albums of the year.

JAGUAR spans a mere 25 minutes, but covers a lot of ground on its seven crisp songs (and two sub-minute interludes). Album opener “Moment” is a pop-R&B track with dramatic string flourishes and chillwave beats – in short, the track could easily appear on an Ariana Grande project. One listen through the track, however, is enough to make one realize that Monet plays a giant role in Ariana’s sound – because she owns this song. “Aye, this your motherfuckin’ moment / Yeah (That you manifested slowly),” she says on the chorus, presumably to her lover, but the words could easily apply to Victoria herself on JAGUAR.

First single “Ass Like That” strips away the R&B for a more hip-hop sound. Lyrically, Monet somewhat subverts expectations by talking not just about how her posterior makes men go crazy, but also about how she got, well, an ass like that. “Treat my calories like weed, yeah, I burn that shit / Shout out to my trainer ’cause he crack that whip,” she explains, rather helpfully. In a way, it’s a subtle indication of Monet as a behind-the-scenes that has had to work hard for her position in life – and also, it’s just an interesting pop songwriting choice.

A few other songs on the album work especially well too. “Go There With You” has a much stronger pop-funk sound that sees Monet suggesting intimacy instead of a late-night fight. On lines like “I don’t wanna go there with you / Let’s end the night on a good time / I can find a better way to be all in your face,” the simplicity in her lyrics make clear just why Ariana’s last two albums felt relatable yet well-written – like a heartfelt Instagram post. The title track “Jaguar” is an echoey, catchy ode to her own well-maintained sex appeal (“Supersonic pussycat / Just like a jaguar, silky black”) with slick beats for days.

JAGUAR is a strong offering from a seasoned player in the modern pop industry, and we’ve loved seeing Monet coming into her own, well-deserved spotlight. Although the album overall is too short and perhaps not endlessly playable, it was a great addition to the year’s debut albums. JAGUAR is apparently just the starting point of what’s to come from Ms. Monet – she notably calls it a project and not an album – so we are definitely staying tuned for more.

Best tracks: “Moment”, “Jaguar”, “Ass Like That”

Rating: 7/10

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