The hardest musical release for any artist is their sophomore record, but to get there they have to make it past the equally difficult and important debut album. As listeners, we demand a lot from debut albums. They have to be unique, fun to listen to, and contain a clear statement of why the artist deserves our attention. With that kind of pressure, it’s no wonder why many artists opt to release series of EPs and/or mixtapes. The playing field is a bit different, however, when the debut album is coming from one of the most prolific and promising young songwriters in the music industry right now. If you haven’t heard the name Tayla Parx, you have definitely heard at least three songs she has written. Just in the past year Tayla helped write “The Kids Are Alright” (Chloe x Halle, review here); several tracks on Ariana Grande’s thank u, next (review here); “High Hopes” (Panic! At the Disco); “Love Lies” (Khalid & Normani); “I Like That” (Janelle Monáe); “Like I Do” (Christina Aguilera, review here); and “Tints” (Anderson .Paak).
With such a massive and successful catalog, Tayla’s debut album had the task of telling us what she brings to the table as an artist, not just a songwriter. On We Need to Talk, Tayla floats between sugary pop melodies and disarming verses. At times, the album veers too far in the direction of what Tayla thinks listeners expect from her, but overall it is a formidable listen.
The lead single, “I Want You,” introduces the album. “You” sets the stage for what to expect production-wise, and the result is an absolutely irresistible and fun pop track. Tayla’s strengths on this album are the straightforward pop tracks. Songs like “We Need to Talk”; “Homiesexual”; and “Slow Dancing” are excellently written and smart tracks. “I’m too old to hold my daddy’s hand, don’t you think? / But I’m health conscious need karats on that ring,” is as once a devastating and witty lyric. It is with this balance that Tayla truly impresses on We Need to Talk. Tayla also triumphs when she leans into her R&B side. “Disconnect,” a stunning duet with Cautious Clay, and “Easy,” which, in some moments, is melodically similar to Ariana Grande’s “needy,” are highlights on the album. The only points where Tayla truly falters are when the songs sound like rejects from other artists. “Me & Us” and “Afraid to Fall,” for example, are too faceless to be interesting. On the whole, We Need to Talk is a strong debut album that successfully introduces Tayla Parx: the artist.
Key Tracks: “Disconnected”; “Easy”; “Rebound”