After years of molding their life’s experiences into vulnerable (and often dark) songs about love, loss, and the sinewy spaces in between, Kehlani ushered in a new era of healing with their 2022 album blue water road. But while they were touring, they experienced another recalibration. “I had to perform this really sweet, airy music, and people just wanted to turn up,” the singer tells Zane Lowe. They absorbed that energy and channeled it into their fourth album, CRASH. Made specifically for performing live, it replaces thoughtful reminiscence with the thrill of freedom and living in the moment. “It’s a grand part of my personality to go outside and have fun,” Kehlani says. “I love that part of myself, so I’m just gonna let her live.” CRASH ventures in several directions across its 13 tracks, never bound to one genre. The joyous “After Hours” is made for the dance floor, its hip, whining drums sampled from Nina Sky’s 2004 hit “Move Ya Body” (which itself borrows from Cordel “Scatta” Burrell’s “Coolie Dance Rhythm”). Elsewhere, they dip into amapiano on the Omah Lay-featuring “Tears,” reference Y2K pop royalty Christina Aguilera on rap-R&B hybrid “What I Want,” belt alongside fuzzed-out electric guitars on rock ballad “Crash,” and melt into country’s acoustic simplicity on “Better Not.” Kehlani lives, lusts, and loves harder than ever, capturing effervescent slices of life through their lyrics. “This moment’s for the taking/Let me set it,” they purr on “GrooveTheory,” a track whose slinking rhythm embodies the titillation of a late-night tryst. “8,” a candy-coated come-on that coaxes pleasure from simple math equations, is followed by the syrupy and more direct “Sucia,” on which Jill Scott introduces its subjects as “ecstasy savages.” “Vegas” builds a protective bubble where lovers can fully exist away from a world on fire. CRASH still has its introspective moments, though: “Deep” allows Kehlani to reflect on the obstacles they’ve overcome to finally be this free. “For once, I’m not attached to some story or some public thing or some trauma or some deep explanations,” they tell Lowe. “I have nothing but joyful things to say to you. I’m in such a happy place.”

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