Ciara’s ‘Ciara’: Some First Impressions Of Her New Album

So last night we went to a recording studio in New York to hang out with multi-platinum recording artist/Very Turnt Up Person Ciara and a few other journalists and some people from her label and her boyfriend Future (who is both better dressed and cooler than any of us could ever aspire to be) while taking a first listen to her fifth studio album, Ciara. And good news: It’s good! In fact, it’s great. It might be our favorite Ciara album to date.

That’s a relief, because it’s no secret that this album era hasn’t exactly gone off without a hitch — after being mismanaged by Jive and moving over to new label Epic, Ciara dropped a string of singles which failed to make much of an impact (“Sweat,” “Sorry,” “Got Me Good” — none of which are making the album, which is probably a blessing) before finally hitting exactly the right vibe with the ingeniously sultry, seductive “Body Party,” arguably her best slow burner since “Promise.” It’s been pretty much universally critically adored (is there anyone who isn’t having a #BodyParty these days?) and it’s produced one of the best videos of her career — and largely, that ambition is carried throughout Ciara.

“I found my clarity,” she said by way of introduction, and it showed in the album’s highlights: “I’m Out” featuring Nicki Minaj (the version played didn’t feature her verse) is a ladies’ anthem, crystalline rhythmic pop with clattering percussion; the tough, sexy-but-aggressive grown-as-fuck “Sophomore” is appealingly ragged; “Read My Lips” is sugary sweet, a singalong ’80s-inflected synth number that should be an instant fan favorite; the island-lite Euro flavor of the Wynter Gordon-penned “Livin’ It Up” sounds more robust in the context of the album; and “Overdose” remains as monstrous a straightforward pop track as any she’s ever cut.

So Ciara has as many ferocious pop moments as the underrated Fantasy Ride, but all the fat has been trimmed; it’s lean, sharp and dynamic, and people are probably going to absolutely love it. When Ciara gets super turnt up — as she is on this record — she’s really the best.

Ciara is out July 9, but you can pre-order it on iTunes now if you feel like getting super turnt-up, too.