Here it is, then – ’s Difficult Second Album. Strictly, it’s her fourth, but we don’t talk about the first two. Which is a pity. But we digress.
Point is, you make the big record, you break through, you’re a star, you’re a talisman, they love you (and in Lizzo’s case, well they might). So what do you next?
Some artists make a jolting turn sideways. Some try to repeat the trick, with diminishing returns. Some – and Lizzo turns out to be one of them – try to repeat the trick and absolutely ace it. The same thing only more so. Pile it on. Did you like Cuz I Love You (and if not, why not)? Then damned if you aren’t going to love this.
Special is, in every way, about affirmation. Affirmation is Lizzo’s metier. I, you, we are beautiful. Well, there are worse ideas in the world, and worse people to expound them.
If the language of self-actualisation becomes a little exhausting, a tad rote and formulaic, with pop stars and pop psychologists increasingly hard to tell apart, then not with Lizzo, it doesn’t. Because Lizzo makes the whole business such glorious, joyous fun.
What Special also affirms is that rap is consigned almost entirely to Lizzo’s past, and she’s now the pop-soul/R&B performer of Juice, all day, every day. With songs as irresistible, infectious, bouncy, slinky, effervescent as these, that’s just dandy.
The presence in the credits of writer/producer Max Martin, the cross-genre eminence grise of those attributes over pop’s last three decades, tells you that Lizzo is taking no chances.
She wants these tunes to simultaneously slap and delight, and so they do. Even the one that samples , sings about Coldplay, and is called, um, Coldplay. Yep, even that one.
More representative is the one titled Everybody’s Gay, which acclaims the pansexuality of the late-night dancefloor, and is (not by accident) a kissing non-binary cousin to the breezy, funky 1981 Rick James classic Give It To Me.
That’s where ya girl’s coming from here, and she’s made that difficult follow-up sound like easiest thing in the world.
Special is out now.