Kehlani: Crash review – the perfect sexy summer soundtrack

<span>Kehlani: ‘a more playful musical framework.’</span><span>Photograph: pr handout</span>
Kehlani: ‘a more playful musical framework.’Photograph: pr handout

US singer-songwriter Kehlani doesn’t believe in emotional half measures. On 2020’s lockdown soundtrack, It Was Good Until It Wasn’t, unhealthy relationships were laid bare over atmospheric R&B, while its folksy follow-up, Blue Water Road, fell headfirst into love. Crash dives deep again emotionally, but adds a more playful musical framework to songs that flit between horny bedroom soundtracks (the Jill Scott-assisted Sucia) and fiercely protective bangers (Next 2 U).

Over a sample of Coolie Dance Rhythm, the bubbling lead single After Hours sets the tone, its nostalgic, club-based R&B a perfect summer soundtrack. It’s quickly bettered by the glorious, innuendo-heavy oral sex anthem 8, which finds Kehlani’s versatile voice cooing softly over a rattling beat. Keen not to be boxed in by genre or mood, however, Better Not leans into soulful country, while Chapel, which rides the highs and lows of love, is a haunted rock ballad.

Across Crash’s 13 varied tracks, it’s the emotional honesty that really sticks. The expansive Deep, for example, details Kehlani’s tormented past (“came from sleeping on the bare concrete”) but never asks for sympathy. Life is complicated and Kehlani knows how to communicate that better than anyone.