What is one supposed to make of a force of nature like Lizzo? It’s hard to think of anything other than pure enjoyment, and perhaps Lizzo is well aware of this. Which would explain her recent (sort of) beef with Pitchfork for giving this album a somewhat mixed review. Because come on, what’s not to like?
That said, “likeable” pop stars aren’t typically the kind of singers I go out of my way to listen to (the number of Beyonce and Taylor Swift albums I’ve listened to is not high). But Lizzo seems like something else entirely, considering nothing about her feels particularly calculated (exhibit #1 being her impressive flute skills). However, I would say it’s reasonable to argue that Cuz I Love You might be a little too slick for its own good, but there are just so many bangers here that its hard to complain.
The biggest banger, of course, being “Juice” – a song that embodies the feel-good vibe that most of the big pop singles from this decade are chasing, but that so few pull off. I suppose the notable thing about the album musically is how Lizzo toes the line between straight-up pop anthems like this one, old school R&B ballads like “Jerome”, or no frills hip-hop like the Missy Elliot collaboration “Tempo”. Then on top of that, there’s an overall synth-funk vibe that harkens back to the so-called “Minneapolis sound” that Prince presided over.
Yet, despite all the stylistic detours Lizzo makes over the course of Cuz I Love You, everything feels cohesive due to the way she infuses every bar with her larger-than-life personality. Whether it’s in her overzealous rhymes or her boisterous belting of choruses, Lizzo owns whatever style she chooses to make her own, and her talent completely backs it up. I’ve heard the term “empowerment-core” applied to Lizzo’s music, which could be interpreted as a back-handed compliment. However, the kind of self-love Lizzo radiates on Cuz I Love You not only feels genuine, but can’t help but rub off on the listener.