Tinashe’s alternative, shadowy take on R&B has always been a source of critical acclaim and although “Flame” takes steps toward a departure from this, she largely sticks to her roots on this new single off her long-awaited album, Joyride.
“Flame” is almost ironic in its frigidity – the eerie rumble of the bass offsetting the frosty echoes of her voice conjures up mental images of glacial caverns. The song expands upon the flash of anguish we first heard on Nightride’s “Ghetto Boy” but where that was all gentle coaxing, this is outright begging. Tinashe has always been an expert in conveying deep emotion with simplistic lyrics; here she pleas in vain with the object of her affection to stay by her side even if it means singlehandedly shouldering all of the blame for what went wrong between them. Her usual tinkling falsetto is mostly abandoned in favor of a more emotive vocal performance (which is refreshing considering she usually sings in a register only dogs can hear). Due to it being a lead single, the song, with its clearly defined bridge and choruses, leans more toward typical R&B-influenced pop in a departure from the ambient nature of her repertoire. Tinashe’s work has often been shunned from radio play due to her willingness to experiment, so the decision to create a more commercial-sounding track comes as no surprise if she’s attempting to regain public interest. However, her usual ominous sexuality isn’t compromised in this venture, and she creates a song that’s sure to please Tinashe devotees and first-time listeners alike.
After numerous pushbacks on Joyride due to her label prioritizing Zayn over her and lukewarm public reception of her seemingly randomly released singles over the years, it’s easy to see her frustration. But with the song already gaining traction online and being used in the new Fast and Furious movie, it seems that we do, in fact, still have the flame for her.