Review: Snoh Aalegra, ‘Temporary Highs in the Violet Skies’

The Iranian-Swedish singer consistently indulges ears with her delicate R&B and signature lovesick songwriting.

There’s been a natural allure towards Snoh Aalegra’s music. Since her 2017 debut album, Feels, Aalegra has dazzled listeners with her twinkling blend of soul and R&B. The selling point has been the vintage tones of her music, coming off as a crossover act between the ‘good old days’ and modern R&B. Mentored by Price and No I.D., as well as being sampled by Drake, her talent is evidently recognised. Sophomore record Ugh, Those Feels Again speaks to this as one of the strongest releases of 2019.

Aalegra’s latest album continues to indulge in her signature delicacy, offering another collection of lovesick ballads that is hard to resist.

Corny title and artwork aside, Temporary Highs delivers the same tasteful recipe without managing to become stale. The music is not nocturnal in the vein of Ugh, Those Feels Again, but equally tranquil. Lyrically and sonically, Aalegra is in mixed spirits, chasing the good moments while echoing a reflective attitude over the 15 tracks. Opening track “Indecisive” parades the best of Snoh Aalegra, beginning with pitched before embarking on its three-part adventure. “Lost You” channels laidback production and the most poignant hook of the album.

When it comes to the writing, Snoh Aalegra’s lyrics are like a message in a bottle. It feels as if her thoughts are being sung into the ether, unaware of whether the appropriate recipient is receiving the memo. Guest appearances from James Fauntleroy and Tyler, The Creator assist in creating an element of callback, particularly Tyler who sticks to the themes of the lyrics on the disco-funk “Neon Peach” and ballroom ballad “In the Moment”.

Befitting of its name, Temporary Highs does well to showcase the highs and lows of love. Aalegra open up the album with topics of commitment issues and vanished affection, opting to present this either in a sombre note (“Lost You”) or over groovier production (“In Your Eyes”, “Neon Peach”). It opens Aalegra up to new sounds on a couple occasions while she explores the feelings of the broken relationship.

Traditional 90s R&B turns up on “Everything”, accurately replicating the pocket without cosplaying as a throwback song; it genuinely sounds like a song plucked directly from that era. “Violet Skies” blossoms with evergreen tones, one of the album’s many moments that act as a seasonal soundtrack. “Taste” explores spacious depth while Aalegra plays with mild auto-tune.

Vocally, Snoh Aalegra is not one to take her range beyond where it has to. The appeal is more about her voice rather than her hitting the highest notes. Whispers of Michael Jackson echo through Temporary Highs (à la “She’s Out of My Life”); the sequin glove in the music video for “Lost You” is no coincidence. Snoh’s vocals do what they have to do; they are dreamy, delicate and sonically attractive.

As standalone tracks, Temporary Highs does not always pack a punch in the way Ugh, Those Feels Again achieved. It is an album that is comfortable in conveying its pretty sound from start to finish with no bumps in the road. Though this is perhaps why there is a blur in memorability for its midsection.

Temporary Highs continues to emit the candour of Snoh Aalegra. She remains the modern voice for beloved artists of the previous generation while maintaining a personable allure. If anyone embodies the saying of wearing heart on your sleeve, it’s Snoh Aalegra.

7 / 10

Best tracks: “Indecisive”, “Lost You”, “Neon Peach”, “Just Like That”, “Violet Skies”