Best known for her contributions to Ariana Grande’s ‘7 Rings’ and ‘Thank U, Next’, ‘JAGUAR’ sees Victoria Monét more than ready to strike out on her own.
The 27-year-old has been steadily pumping out stellar R&B tunes for awhile now, most recently with the SG Lewis-produced ‘Experience’ which also featured Khalid on vocals. ‘JAGUAR’ is her first full-length project after four EPs released between 2014 and 2018.
Kicking things off on the album is the previously-released ‘Moment’: a sensual, soul-influenced number with an equally steamy music video. And Monét is completely in charge here, telling her partner that “Fuck a fantasy / this your motherfuckin’ moment”. It’s a confident beginning to the ride of ‘JAGUAR’, as she turns the male gaze on its head.
It’s a tad strange to follow up the first track with an interlude, especially one as uneventful as ‘Big Boss’, which might have made more sense if it were longer. As it is on the album, however, the chorus comes across as reductive, all the more so when measured against the other tracks here.
Thankfully, with third track ‘Dive’, Monét gets back up to speed. The song, released in April this year, is without a doubt an album highlight. A patchwork of rapid-fire verses, tongue-in-cheek text painting and a majestic outro courtesy of some vintage horns. And Monét isn’t coy about themes here: ‘Dive’ is about the ecstasy of oral pleasure.
We get another interlude next, this time with the funky ‘We Might Even Be Falling In Love’ which sets up the upbeat nucleus of the record. Title track ‘Jaguar’ continues Monét’s brash, unabashed lyrics: “Supersonic pussycat / Just like a jaguar, silky black / So let me climb your wood like that / You got nine times to come hit that”. A shoo-in for inclusion on playlists of bedroom jams for sure.
It goes without saying that ‘Experience’ is one of the record’s best moments, if not the best moment. A groovy, rollerskates-ready song that fits in with disco’s re-emergence in 2020, yet somehow also manages to sound timeless. No surprise given that producer SG Lewis is also behind such gems as Dua Lipa’s Hallucinate and his own Chemicals.
‘Ass Like That’ heralds the album’s third arc of more subdued, slow-burners. ‘Go There With You’ is a gritty plea for make-up sex. ‘Touch Me’ is no-frills R&B, a sensual closer about queer romance: “Girl it’s been too long / And when you rock them short nails, that’s low key sentimental”. While not as layered and textured as the earlier parts of the album, these songs show Monét’s depth as an artist able to dig deep and deliver in many forms. No two songs on ‘JAGUAR’ sound similar, and yet, they all fit well into the artistry of Victoria Monét.
In Monét’s own words, the Jaguar is symbolic of a figure not being “in the limelight”, yet still remaining a force to be reckoned with. Her debut has certainly lived up to the notions of its namesake, differentiating Monét from her contemporaries with her more off-kilter interpretations of R&B. Like a jaguar from the shadows, Victoria Monet is here to stake a claim for R&B royalty, and she’s got tricks up her sleeve.