Over the last few years, albums have been getting very long, particularly in the hip hop and rap worlds. Several media outlets, including Complex and Pitchfork, have reported on the growing trend, and the simple answer as to why is that more tracks tend to mean more streams. Yet more often than not, to the listener, long albums feel excessive.
Sanelisiwe Twisha’s second album under her musical guise Moonchild Sanelly clocks in at a mammoth 19 tracks, and its length is its greatest downfall. Phases is split into two halves, documenting various stages of a difficult relationship and the eventual breakup, but this structure creates an imbalance. The two halves feel disconnected and as though they should exist as separate entities, rather than forming one cohesive whole.
Its second half is certainly its better half, and sees Twisha incorporating more sounds traditional to her birthplace of South Africa. Amapiano and gqom beats thunder through standout tracks like ‘Covivi’, ‘Jiva Jaluka’, and ‘Bad Bitch Budget’, and it’s here that Twisha really hits her stride. Even if the intention here is to uphold the album’s narrative of the before and after of a consuming relationship, its execution requires a bit of finessing.
There’s a really great album in Phases that showcases Twisha as a hugely ambitious and creative artist. But, by overstretching herself, some of the tracks sound diluted and, as a result, parts of the album suffer where they should shine.