“Hold the Girl,” Rina Sawayama’s second studio album, holds true to the artist’s exploratory style of music while exceeding expectations from the success of her debut album, “SAWAYAMA.” In true Rina fashion, “Hold the Girl” explores the full spectrum of pop and pushes the boundaries of the genre all at once. The album consists primarily of pop, pop rock, and dance pop. The album also takes a dive into country pop with “This Hell,” hyperpop with “Imagination,” and pop-punk with “Hurricanes.” Early 2000s rock also finds its way into the influences on the album. These influences are best seen in the rock core of the album in the songs “Hurricanes,” which draws influence from the early 2000s music of Kelly Clarkson, Paramore, Avril Lavigne, and “Frankenstein,” which was largely influenced by Sawayama’s love of indie rock in the 2000s.
“Hold the Girl” explores two major themes throughout its stellar tracklist. The primary theme of the album is healing from trauma, primarily the healing of one’s inner child. The album dives into trauma and showing kindness to the person we once were and helping that part of ourselves heal. This theme is largely explored through the titular single and “Phantom.” The secondary theme introduced in “Minor Feelings,” and further explored in “Send my Love to John,” is that our experiences are largely a result of the attributes we possess, such as race, age, and sexuality. Notably, Sawayama’s personal experiences as a queer Japanese woman show up prominently throughout the album.
Every song of the album could have succeeded as a single and stands out in its own right, which can be attributed to the fact that each song fills a different niche in a different subgenre. When brought together, these unique standalone pieces make the themes of the album all that more poignant and truly pull together this powerhouse of an album. “Hold the Girl” has the pop star quality, catchiness, and creativity of any truly great album and further cements its place with the piercing emotionality that it presents throughout. It is an exploration of pop and a much deeper exploration of trauma and healing.
“Hold the Girl” has truly solidified Sawayama’s name in pop music and is an album that, no matter how many listens you give it, will leave you in awe and thinking “Ugh, finally some good fucking music.” It truly is a masterclass in music, and proves her worthy of her Twitter username: “RINA SLAYWAYAMA.”