A daring yet highly finessed triumph...

Victoria Monét has led a shadow life.

The R&B artist has released four fantastic EPs to date, spread between the ‘Nightmares & Lullabies’ and ‘Life After Love’ projects. Yet alongside this she’s enjoyed incredible success as a songwriter, notably developing a seven-year relationship with Ariana Grande.

‘JAGUAR’ finds the American stepping out of the shadows of her success, grappling with the limelight on her first full-length project. It’s a debut handled with immaculate grace, however, with Victoria Monét using its succinct span to construct a tour de force of forward-thinking R&B. Reducing the playful sonics of her earlier EPs to a palette of strict finesse, ‘JAGUAR’ feels like a tightly-wound, explicitly honed beast.

‘Moment’ is a formidable introduction, while the lightness of touch that propels ‘Dive’ hinges on that ultra-refreshing Miami ’82 synth line. English producer SG Lewis teams up with Khalid to build the bedrock for ‘Experience’, a stunning party-starting favourite that blasts apart the rigours of the lockdown process. Sheer joy from start to finish, it’s explicitly pop while still holding true to her R&B roots, allowing some refreshing light to seep into her work.

A prowling display of artistic and personal confidence, ‘JAGUAR’ finds Victoria Monét embracing every aspect of her life. A super-sensual collection that leaves nothing to the imagination, it’s a project that dwells on soulful erotica. Take ‘Dive’ with its oral sex references, or even the title cut with its potent description of a “super-sonic pussy / cat…”

Coming out as bisexual in 2018, it’s this backdrop that allows Victoria Monét to queer female sexuality in such an authentic way on the glorious ‘Touch Me’. It even adds another layer to her potent femininity, switching things up on the Southern crunch that lingers behind ‘Ass Like That’.

A record that feels incredibly refined, ‘JAGUAR’ is an expert piece of R&B engineering, with each individual part interlocking perfectly. It’s a wonderful experience, with Victoria Monét’s stellar artistry balancing the sensuality of sound with a killer lyrical flair that aims straight for the heart.

9/10

Words: Robin Murray

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