On her debut album, Jaguar, Victoria Monét blends classic R&B with innovative takes on modern R&B and pop. An acclaimed songwriter who has worked with the likes of Ariana Grande, Chloe x Halle, and Fifth Harmony, Monét takes center stage on this project – with one listen, it is apparent she worked meticulously to craft the featured tracks. Monét showcases a unique sound, straying from typical Top 40 R&B/pop sounds.
The album’s first track, “Moment”, is a sleek, sexy opener, Monét does not shy from expressing her sexuality – the main theme of the project. Monét’s voice suits the production of the song nicely – featuring strings and a nice bass line, listeners are drawn into Monét’s sensual world. “Big Boss (Interlude)” is a stand out track, featuring hypnotic, psychedelic-esque production. As Monét croons, “I just wanna make you feel/ make you feel/ make you feel/ Big boss like a thousand dollar bill,” two interpretations are present – one can either find the song to be a love song for another, or a self-love anthem.
“Dive” is an extremely sensual track. While Monét’s vocals are full and easy on the ears, the production is contrary. The track begins with a whimsical melody, progressively becoming more complex. Horns are prominently featured on this track, and while they are a nice deviation from modern R&B norms, they are particularly lavish – maybe, too much so. It does not take long for the trumpets to feel abrasive on the ears. The sounds of a bed creaking and Monét’s moans make the song overwhelmingly sensual – to the point where it becomes hard to enjoy or take seriously.
A special moment of the project comes with another short interlude, “We Might Even Be Falling In Love (Interlude).” The production is simple yet groovy. The lyrics of this track are sweet and simple, “It feels like/ I’m gonna know you for the rest of my life,” – a nice change of pace from the previous tracks. The interlude transitions nicely into the title track, “Jaguar.” Influenced by funk/groove music, “Jaguar” is an enjoyable, high energy track. It’s easy to find oneself humming along and bobbing one’s head to the beat. As much of the project does, this track also features horns – in a less overwhelming way than “Dive.”
“Experience”, which features Khalid and SG Lewis, may be the best track on the project; a true disco pop anthem. The bass line is incredibly groovy and Monét’s voice is smooth like butter. Khalid complements her nicely and the disco elements of the production are wonderful to listen to. The highs of “Experience” are met with the lows of “Ass Like That.” This song is almost unlistenable: The repetitive production and lyrics makes the song feel mundane and contrived, although the message behind it is empowering. Monét penned this song to celebrate the female body and taking care of oneself. However, this message is not enough to compensate for the bland, forgettable nature of the track.
The project closes with “Go There With You” and “Touch Me.” “Go There With You” features guitars in a way not present on other tracks, which is an interesting change of direction on the project. On “Touch Me,” Monét sings about her sexual experiences with women – making the project a true reflection of her sexuality. Monét’s voice sounds lovely throughout the chorus and the production of this track is nice and smooth – reminiscent of the sounds of Jhené Aiko.
Ultimately, Monét’s songwriting and vocal performance talents are showcased on this project in a refreshing way. Although some tracks fall flat, others shine with uniqueness and thoughtful production – positioning Monét as a renaissance woman in the music industry – singer, songwriter, dancer, and overall creative. Monét is unafraid to dabble in sounds that differ from those on the radio, and that is to be celebrated.