Debut albums can be tricky territory. It can often be a sandbox for an artist to experiment and find what sounds they’re most drawn to, or it can be too safe and they trap themselves in a certain production. Most artists fall victim to leaning too far to one side or the other, but Tayla Parx — the writer behind some of the biggest songs of the past couple years — toes that fine line quite well on We Need to Talk, even if she does stumble every now and then. Expanding on what she established on last year’s Tayla Made mixtape, the singer tries on various shades of pop and R&B, finding a preferred avenue of moody beats that are paired with expressive vocals.
If there is one thing that’s certain about Parx, it’s that she can write her ass off; “Slow Dancing” and “Easy” are the cream of the crop here, written in differing styles that don’t detract from the other. At once her greatest strength and her biggest downfall, some of the songs here (namely “Me vs. Us” and “Disconnected,” as good as they are) often sound like they were intended for other artists, almost in the spirit of Sia’s 2016 album This Is Acting. As a showcase of her personal artistry, these tracks fail her and slightly muddy the image she is attempting to cultivate.
Even with this in mind, the singer does present her musical personality throughout the album. Opener “I Want You” is a bouncy ode to indecision, while “Read Your Mind” begs her partner to make up theirs; the Joey Bada$$-featuring “Rebound” tackles exactly what you think it does, just after establishing where they were at in the title track. It’s a messy, sometimes irking, listen, but that’s exactly what We Need to Talk is about — the intrusive, complicated thoughts we must process in our everyday lives. Jumping head first into the first record experience, Parx valiantly perseveres through the transition between behind-the-scenes writer and bonafide artist, and that’s an accomplishment in and of itself.
Standout tracks: “Slow Dancing,” “Me vs. Us,” “Rebound,” “Easy”