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Music: Snoh Aalegra


The Iranian-born Swedish-raised singer Snoh Aalegra has always blurred the lines between hip-hop and R&B. She does so again with her latest studio album called "Temporary Highs In The Violet Skies." NPR music reporter and co-host of the Louder Than A Riot podcast Sidney Madden is here to walk us through it.

SIDNEY MADDEN, BYLINE: I think it's only right that you start at the beginning, with "Indecisive," the No I.D.-produced banger that just sends you for a tailspin right off jump as soon as you press play on the album.


MADDEN: And the reason you got to start here and this album starts so strong is because it sets the tone for the theme of the overall project, the idea of being suspended in air, similarly to feeling like floating above the clouds on a plane ride or a lucid dream, where you're temporarily severed from the world and all the responsibilities and reasoning.


SNOH AALEGRA: (Singing) Now you got time. I don't got any. You should have thought about that while you was with me. You just go ahead and be with everybody. You should know by now I ain't just anybody. I don't really care.

MADDEN: And while Snoh is suspended in air and replaying all these memories while she's insulated in this little bubble, she starts to replay memories or conversations of past loves. And one of the album's early highlights that notes this is "Neon Peach," featuring Tyler, the Creator.


SNOH AALEGRA: (Singing) I don't even try to bring up and remind you all the things that you have done.

MADDEN: Tyler plays sort of a stand-in for one of Snoh's past loves. And it really shows off their unique ability for collaboration and shows Snoh and Tyler sparring about whose fault it was that things fell out, whose idea it was to stop seeing each other and who took things too far.


SNOH AALEGRA: (Singing) Yourself.

TYLER, THE CREATOR: Yo, Snoh, listen.


TYLER, THE CREATOR: (Rapping) Your boyfriend a clown, looking like a birthday party, loud as a - gifts all gaudy. And you gone be hurt until he blurt, I'm sorry. Trying to play it off, leaving with your shirt all soggy. Drunk collar, me the Don Dada. Gal, come with. Hit it off, pinata. Sweet as the guts, then you can sit on the steps. But make a choice cause you about to lose your spot on the jet. Yeah, haha.

SNOH AALEGRA: (Singing) It's the thing that you do.

MADDEN: And then there's these deep-cutting, nearly cataclysmically painful joints where she just talks about and dwells on the feeling of someone's touch on her cheek or the softness of their lips and the mourning and the disappointment of mindgames, arbitrary emotional walls and intoxicating surrender of going back to the same things. One of the songs that does a great job of pulling at all of the scenes is "On My Mind."


SNOH AALEGRA: (Singing) It ain't over though it's over. Oh, no. It's been a minute. Wait, I was going to hit you, but I'm glad I ain't send it 'cause now I hear you talking about how we ended. Everything I said and done, you know that I meant it. Yes, you know that I meant it. Say what you won't say.

MADDEN: There's a crucial piece of subtext that's at play, just lingering around all throughout this album. And it's that the theme of being able to detach, to isolate, to suspend or to surrender and have a moment to really think things through, it gives you the opportunity, which is so rare, to get everything all in perspective. And I think with the year we've all lived through, that's something that we can all identify with.


SNOH AALEGRA: (Singing) On my mind. I just feel you all the time. I know I'm out. But somehow, I'm still in it. Just know I feel a way 'cause I know you still feel it. And in my mind...

KURTZLEBEN: That was NPR Music's Sidney Madden with her review of Snoh Aalegra's new album "Temporary Highs In The Violet Skies." Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Sidney Madden is a reporter and editor for NPR Music. As someone who always gravitated towards the artforms of music, prose and dance to communicate, Madden entered the world of music journalism as a means to authentically marry her passions and platform marginalized voices who do the same.
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