|2020||how i’m feeling now||Charli XCX||★★★★||84||Pop||Electropop||Hyperpop|
how i’m feeling now is a really good, well crafted pop album that expertly combines Charli XCX’s catchy, simple choruses, with complex production that keep you interested and coming back for more.
It’s a work that is 100 percent a product of the environment that it was made in. Being the product of the Covid-19 pandemic, an upbeat, modern pop record that sounds fun but is intimate and grounded in the ideas of isolation is so appropriate and relatable.
The opening four tracks bring a lot of variety and go up and down in intensity really well. “Pink Diamond’s” aggressive, glitchy sound effects energize you right away. “Forever” is a little softer but is a classic, catchy top 40s-style pop song. “Claws” is more obnoxious, nails-screeching and in-you-face, but fun as hell, before the album calms itself down again with “7 Years,” a nostalgic, electronic ballad.
All of these elements bounce back and forth throughout the record, and although the mid section is a little less memorable, the closing quartet of songs bring similar quality and intrigue as the opening.
“Anthems,” in particular, really caught my attention the first time I listened to the album and has been my favorite track ever since. Those loud, staccato synths are explosive and exactly what you want in a song that’s supposed to feel like you’re losing control or losing your mind while you’re bored with your everyday routine and longing for human interaction.
I do think a few songs in the middle of the album like “Detonate,” “Enemy” and “I Finally Understand” aren’t as strong and drag a little, especially compared to the higher energy tracks at the front and back ends of the record. They aren’t bad — “Detonate” has some cute little electronic flourishes in there that make it work, and “Enemy” is good, but a more straightforward radio pop song, which in my opinion leaves it more in the B tier of tracks.
Similarly, if you’re looking for fault, the vocabulary on the record and repetitiveness of some of the lyrics are sometimes underwhelming if you stop to think about them. Thematically, they work, but you’re reminded that you’re indeed listening to a pop record, which could be a good or bad thing depending on what you’re wanting out of the experience.