A Review of “We Need To Talk” the Debut Album from Hit Songwriter Tayla Parx
If you've listened to the radio over the past year, you've probably heard one of the hit songs that talented songwriter, Tayla Parx has helped pen. Fans of pop star Ariana Grande might already know that Parx had a hand in writing her chart topping singles “thank u, next” and “7 Rings,” both released earlier this year, but those aren't her only writing credits. Last year she assisted in writing “Pynk” by Janelle Monae featuring Grimes, “Accelerate” by Christina Aguilera featuring 2 Chainz and Ty Dolla Sign, “Mic Drop” by the K-Pop group BTS featuring Desiigner, “Love Lies” by Khalid and Normani which was featured in the film Love, Simon and “High Hopes” by Panic! At the Disco. And those aren't even her only writing credits, she's been co-writing popular songs since 2013.
If you're into R&B from the late nineties and the early aughts, you're probably going to love “We Need To Talk.” Think the musical styling of Alicia Keys, with Ashanti vocals, and melancholy Usher vibes. Take all of that and put a modern twist on the sounds and lyrics and you have Tayla Parx' debut LP. Overall, the album tells the story of what it's like to reluctantly fall in love and try to date in a romantic world that is murky and confusing, each track bringing something new to the table.
The first track, “I Want You” is my favorite off the album. It' fun, with a a laid-back beat and vocals that drive the song forward quickly without getting carried away. It's the first song I heard by Parx, and the reason I decided to listen to “We Need to Talk.”
“Homiesexual” is the second track off the album and after a few listens I still can't decided if it's a song about hanging out with your friends, or having sex with your friends. Personally I'm leaning towards that latter, but feel free to listen and decide for yourself. Either way, this track will make you feel like you're at the beach. If you can't close your eyes while you're listening and feel the sand in your toes, then I'm going to assume you've just never been to a beach. Seriously, I almost put my sunglasses on the first time I listened. It's very Gwen Stefani meets JoJo and I love it.
In her third track, “Slow Dancing,” Parx describes herself as a “typical girl” in swirl of music that will make you want to skip through a field of daises while flipping off the patriarchy. Or maybe that's just me.
If you're looking for a subdued vibe, the fourth track, “Me vs. Us” might be more your style. The synthetic back track sounds like what it feels like to lay on the floor of a room that's spinning around you, and the vocals take a dramatic turn to match soul searching lyrics.
The first of four interludes is called “What Can I Say.” It's short and to the point. You're bad for me but I like you and I'd fall for you over and over again. The music brings messy attitude to the track, and punctuates each word perfectly.
“Afraid to Fall” is my second favorite off the album. It's the track that harkens back to the early aughts R&B and it's backed by a pulsating beat and the sounds of sending text messages.
The second interlude is made to be a voicemail. “Happy Birthday,” is the shortest track on the album, and it's a one-sided “we should hang out” conversation.
Listening to “We Need to Talk,” the halfway point of the album, is like being in a really cool elevator. Like if your favorite R&B artist was tasked with the job of musical elevator operator at the local indie hotel.
The ninth track on the album, “Disconnected,” also has a very distinct fifteen years ago R&B feel. It's what I imagine a Mary J. Blige and Ciara collab would have sounded like at the time. Which is a serious compliment.
In “Read Your Mind,” Parx begs a lover to be straight with her. Love me or don't, but don't keep me hanging. /I can't hate you and love you at the same time/. It includes a feature by DUCKWRTH that acts as a sweet response to Parx' plea for honesty. The music is much more stripped down than the rest of the album and it serves the track well.
If Parx plans on releasing another single off of “We Need to Talk,” I would imagine that single would be the eleventh track, “Rebound” featuring Joey Bada$$. The lyrics are clever and relatable complete with pop-culture sport references, and the ever popular phrase“skrrt, skrrt” As far as the music goes, if slow body rolls are a thing people do, I imagine this is a song one might slow body roll to.
“What Do You Know” is the third interlude, and it seems to be a sort of “screw you” to anyone who may question Parx' hustle to the top.
“Dirt” is an interesting juxtaposition of positive sounds and negative words. The music although slow, is almost optimist in nature, the vocals are cute, but the lyrics themselves are about cheating.
The fourth and final interlude and second to last track, “Tomboys Have Feelings Too” is a sincere admission of feelings for someone. It's a poppy ode to the meeting of romance and masculinity.
The closing song, “Easy,” is a beautiful culmination of all of Prax's greatest talents. The writing is precise and telling, the vocals are raw and emotional, and the music is simple. Just enough sound to support the vocals in a way that enhances the revelation of the story she's telling. Synthetic and ethereal in all the right ways.
“We Need to Talk” is not an album where the listener chooses to skip a track. Although the songs can easily, stand on their own, it's been artfully crafted in a way that makes you want to listen to it in its entirety. If you skip a track, you're skipping a part of the story that begs to be told. A modern story of love and heart break told through the lens of time in the styling of a late nineties, early aughts R&B artist.