Review: Ari Lennox navigates relationships and self-love in ‘age/sex/location’

The singer’s sophomore album combines R&B and neo-soul influences to explore the complexity of love in today’s age.


Aaliya Luthra

Ari Lennox’s second album portrays the duality of wanting to be desired while playing hard to get. (Illustration by Aaliya Luthra)

Paree Chopra, Staff Writer

On her sophomore album “age/sex/location,” Ari Lennox returns with a beautiful blend of R&B, soul and hip-hop elements that merge with her smooth and raspy vocals. This album feels like it was made for the listener to sit back, absorb and groove as Lennox demonstrates a sophisticated seductiveness while dealing with the vicissitudes of love. A powerful voice in the contemporary R&B space, Lennox lends her album to honor the beloved genre while maintaining a display of her neo-soul affection and warm personality. 

The album begins with “POF,” a jazz and blues tune that plays with the duality of looking for companionship and being discouraged by the current unstable dating environment. The song  calls to the album’s title with Lennox singing, “What’s that they say back in the day? / ‘It’s plenty of fish in the sea’ / Will somebody explain what’s with these lame / Fish that be swimmin’ to me?” as the name “age/sex/location” unfolds to identify themes of sex, relationships and online dating amid finding self-love.

“Boy Bye (feat. Lucky Daye)” extends this narrative as Lennox and Daye duet a playful dialogue that oscillates between chasing someone for a chance and playing hard to get. Amid dreamy synths and smooth drums, Lennox returns the focus of this dating world to herself as she yearns for privacy and peace in “Blocking You” — “Blockin’ you on everything / I need a moment (Yeah), I need a day (Yeah) / To restore this place.”

While Lennox sings about her longing for privacy, the album isn’t without its sensual and seductive energy either. Where “Waste My Time” uses upbeat and groovy melodies to highlight hookup culture, “Hoodie” goes beyond with its sultry bass and creative production that allows Lennox to fully suspend her lower register and underpin the lustfulness that exudes from its lyrics: “Spread it like some queso / Tangled up on your waist / Dreamin’ of how you taste.” 

“Stop By,” “Mean Mug” and “Let It,” featuring Chlöe, also find themselves tangled up within this lust for passion. However, the highlight within this theme is definitely the chart-topping “Pressure” that combines Motown beats, 808s and a subtlety of funk tunes to present an addictive jam as Lennox gracefully glides over lyrics, “Keep your eyes on me, eyes on me, apply (Pressure) / Get it, don’t be timid when you in it, apply (Pressure).” 

The 12-track album ends on “Queen Space,” featuring Summer Walker. The women take back control and reel in the sensual energy to highlight the power they hold within. Lennox reflects on self-love and appreciation as she realizes her self-worth — “I deserve something purer.” The old-school soul and R&B track becomes the perfect ending for an album that navigates relationships in a world where only an invisible barrier exists between the virtual and real.

“age/sex/location” feels like a successful blend of fighting between what you know, what you deserve, and how you’re going to achieve that self-love. We are witnessing the evolution of Ari Lennox as she continues to solidify herself as one of the most prominent voices of contemporary R&B. She explained in a Tweet: “This album is a transitional space before my current eat pray love journey,” referencing the 2010 Julia Roberts romance film “Eat Pray Love” where the protagonist reconnects with herself and discovers her life passions. This gem of an album does just that, as Lennox grows with her music and her inner self.

Contact Paree Chopra at [email protected].