Charli XCX is a British singer-songwriter who became a prominent name in 2013 when she collaborated with Icona Pop on the hit song “I Love It”. The next year would be her breakout as she did the hook for Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy”, and would have her first solo hit in “Boom Clap”. Since then, Charli wouldn’t be an artist that was on my radar as I didn’t care for the mainstream pop side of music.
However, last year, Charli received critical acclaim for her self-titled record with the blend of the normal pop formulas, and some experimental twists as well. So my curiosity got the best of me, and I decided to give her a go around this time. I must say that I am glad I did.
how i’m feeling now is her fourth studio album, and she opens up about her thoughts and feelings during this quarantine and social distancing period of time. Throughout this record, she reminisces on times before such as partying with her friends and performing in front of crowds. The aspect of this project that hit me the most is the very intimate and personal anecdotes she shares about the relationship with her boyfriend Huck Kwong. Not only does she explore the positive thoughts of him, but also the inner negatives that could come up in a time like this where this is a lot of introspection that could lead to anxious feelings.
The track “forever” is her affirmation to Kwong that she wants to be with him no matter how physically distant they may be from each other. “7 years” describes the journey in their relationship; both the ups and downs, and “detonate” is a gut-wrenching cut on this record where Charli talks about the paranoia of heartbreak. To ensure that she isn’t the one who gets rejected, she actually ends up hurting her lover instead.
I have to explain that these are all tough listens for me as I am currently in a relationship during this period, and it’s just as painful as Charli describes it because you only want to be with your person. However, I know how good my relationship is and how close my girlfriend and I are. We will get through this time and I can’t wait to see her in a few months.
When you go back to the beginning of the album, you wouldn’t expect it to get as intimate as it becomes because “pink diamond” is an explosion of industrial noises that perfectly captures the desires of wanting to get out of quarantine and party as hard as possible.
At first “c2.0” wasn’t a song that I thought I would enjoy, but once Charli’s verse shoots in over the background vocals, it becomes a satisfying and sweet moment on the album where she talks about missing her close-knit group of friends.
“party 4 u” is The Great Gatsby-like in how Jay Gatsby throws an extravagant party only for the sake of his crush, Daisy. I love the laidback instrumental and the reverb on Charli’s vocals.
“anthems” is another explosion of energy on this project that allude back to the themes of “pink diamond” and “c2.0”. Charli’s vocals are eccentric, bouncy, and the beat gives the final touch to make the club banger it should become once people can release the months of missed parties in the near future.
I don’t have many negatives with this album. “Claws” is definitely not a bad song. I absolutely love the first half of the track, but once becomes solely an EDM extravaganza past the 1:30 mark, I tune out. “i finally understand” was a little flat and monotone, but outside of that, this album is great. I can see why Charli’s 2019 album received a lot of praise. There’s great ideas that she’s able to bring to the pop scene.
This is the perfect quarantine album. It captures all the feelings that one would have during this time, and will serve as a time capsule and a piece of music history for these unprecedented times.
Richest Tracks: “pink diamond”, “forever”, “7 years”, “detonate”, “enemy”, “c2.0”, “party 4 u”, “anthems”
Worst Track: “i finally understand”
Listen to the album: