Charli XCX - how i'm feeling now
May 14, 2020
90
This album was made in a month, maybe just over a month. You wouldn't know that if you listened to it. This thing is incredibly polished, incredibly catchy and incredibly fucking amazing.

I wasn't the biggest fan of Charli's last full-length release, it has grown on me over time but I still find some songs lacking. This however, while a lot shorter than Charli, it feels like all the best moments taken from that album and put into one neat little package. It's noisier, it's catchier and it is a lot more experimental. It feels very raw while still feeling polished and thought out. The production value on this thing is sky high, and it amazes me that this was made in such a short amount of time, plus being helped with by fans so this could be the best album it could possibly be, and it definitely shows. This is Charli's best album, by far.

The album opens with pink diamond, which is a very good showcase of exactly what this album has to offer, faster, louder and catchier beats and production, with a lo-fi feel to it. A lot of these songs really have that homemade feel to them, while there is a lot of polish, which just shows how talented Charli is as a producer, there still is that hint of DIY to it all, which really adds to the entire experience. Pink diamond also discusses a lot of the themes showcased on the album, while this isn't a "deep" album with deep themes and a long storyline, it's just something to vibe to, but, the lyrics still have an effect, on certain songs especially. Going back to pink diamond's lyrics though, they do talk about a lot of the themes that this album has upfront, like the quarantine and how we're all well, locked indoors. That is a common theme throughout the album and it gives me the vibe of "we're not allowed outside so let's make our own party inside", and she did it.

Forever, the second track and lead single (if you can call it a "lead single" considering how this album rolled out) is one of my favourites off the album for sure, second song in and I'm already debating calling this my aoty. The lyrics here feel a lot more thought out than a lot of her previous endeavours (to me at least). While Charli isn't a bad songwriter, I'm not a huge fan of the overly sexual lyrics in her previous album, while a lot of the songs did go hard, and I can still happily sing along to most of the songs, I much prefer this style of writing, showcased on this song and a lot of this album, a lot calmer and a lot more romanticised feel to it. It's cute. Forever is an oddly emotional song to me, I'm not sure what it is really but it just makes me feel happy. It could be because of how it was made, and the music video too, just all this fan participation. This was the first song that was completed for the album (I'm pretty sure) and was originally meant to be the closer (I'm kind of glad it wasn't the closer, as I prefer the actual closer, but we'll get to my thoughts about that soon enough). It's a song that works a lot better earlier on in the album as it, once again does discuss the themes of the album, laying out what we can expect for the record. It's a lot calmer of a song than pink diamond, even though it does a very noisy intro, which I really like too. A lot of this review is going to me gloating because I just, really like this album.

Claws is a song that still hasn't really resonated with me, while it's not a bad song, it hasn't clicked as hard as it has for a lot of other people. Forever is still my favourite single, claws being my least favourite probably. It feels oddly formulaic. It feels predictable, for a Charli song. While I can appreciate the harsher sections that appear, and again, the amazing production, it does feel a little predictable to me, apart from the ending. That ending scared me at first but fuck I love it.
After this point we get to the real new stuff, which is really what we're all here for, and it was worth the hype.

Most of these songs blew me away, each one began with me sitting with bated breath, but they all (or most) managed to impress me in different ways. 7 years is another more formulaic song, but it remains fun and reminds me of older pop music, with a futuristic twist put on it. I also really like the lyrics to this one, I don't really know why? I just find them cute :). A lot of the lyrics on this record are cute honestly, it does tend to switch between existential and cute quite a bit, but that's ok, because it works. Detonate is probably the weakest track on the album, it's not a bad song, and I still like it but I feel it is a little lacklustre compared to the rest of the album. I really like the ending of the track, as it quite literally fizzles out. The song comes across as a little too "cutesy" in its production, to an almost sickening extent. I can still bob my head to it quite easily, and sing along occasionally, but overall I do see this as more of a miss than a hit, especially compared to the other songs on this album. Enemy on the other hand, is quite an interesting song. It has quite the atmosphere to it, feeling spacey and futuristic. Especially with that synth that plays throughout the track. It's also the first Charli song I've heard that uses a sample, and uses it to great effect!

It was at this point in the album I genuinely did tear up. I don't do that often, and I'm surprised this album did that to me, but it's interesting. This album is very special, not only is it quite different to most pop releases (it is Charli after all) but the way it was made and how it was released, has never really been done before (to me knowledge) and it was a success. An album that was a huge collaborative effort with fans, having Zoom meetings to discuss the creation, letting fans submit whatever they wanted via email: vocals, beats, lyrics, anything and it was all used. Charli also being completely transparent on the album's creation, releasing lyrics as she wrote, making Youtube updates. She did everything she could to ensure this could really be her best record, as it had that direct input to her fans, and it paid off immensely. While there are a few duds here and there in the tracklisting, like detonate or party 4 u, most of the songs on here feel unique and are certified bops.

I will discuss a couple more songs, mainly the closer and anthems. Firstly, anthems is probably one of my favourite songs just because of the chorus, the chorus is one of the best things I've heard all year, and I've heard a lot of good shit. I think it's how blatant it is "I want anthems" It's a song about wanting to go to parties again and being with your friends, partying the nights away. Of course we can't right now, as we're all locked in, but hey, we can dance all night to Charli! Also the beat is infectious! It just fills you right up and makes you fucking move. We then get visions, which I have to say is probably closer of the year so far? It's such a fitting ending to this album, it's slow but still infectious and it builds up excellently before it ends on an amazing outro, spanning around a minute. It's full of heavy noise and layers of synth, it's very EDM inspired but with that Charli flair to it and I love it to bits. It's such a fitting ending to the record, ending in layers and layers of noise and chaos, just how a Charli album should end.

To close, this review probably was a little disjointed and I'm sorry for that, but hopefully I got my opinion across? That I do really like this album, it's something I can see myself returning to frequently and while it's not anything lyrically touching. It still feels groundbreaking and earth-shattering. Charli is a powerhouse that no one can fuck with.

Favourite Tracks (asterisk implies standout): pink diamond, future, 7 years, enemy, anthems, visions*
Least Favourite Tracks: detonate
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