Photo Credit: Marcus Cooper
Charli XCX’s fourth official studio album How I’m Feeling Now may as well be the equivalent antidote to the Covid-19 quarantine. Released just short of Memorial Day, the self-made LP (created in a brief six week time frame entirely from Charli’s home studio) is the first project by a major artist to be produced in its entirety throughout the 2020 pandemic.
With that said, the 11-track collection of songs kicks off with the pop sung, rave-blaring “Pink Diamond” which sounds like it picks up just where her 2019 celebrated Charli LP left us off at. In cult pop bliss! She continues on this wave with the infectious sounds of “Claws”, which immediately stands out as one of the highlights on the entire album. The bass booming track features the free-spirited London bred artist at her finest. For example, you can see her in one scene of the official video (https://youtu.be/WAo8X-rIt8k) as she randomly rides a scooter down the street in a bikini bra and stretch pants, which has absolutely nothing to do with the actual song. Yes! Signature Charli.
Elsewhere, she continues to remarkably capture the current state of emotions the world is going through in quarantine, with songs like the delightful “Forever” which is the best reflection of the album’s overall entertaining self-isolation themed vibe. The tune rings true to anyone who has ever missed a loved one but can’t get to them, as she sings repeatedly on the hook: “I will always love you, I love you forever, even when we’re not together.” Continuing on through the album is the already fan favorite titled ”Party 4 You”, as she sings sweetly to a lover about a party for only them two: “I was hopin’ you would come through, it’s true, it’s true // Only threw this party for you // I only threw this party for you, for you, for you // I’m about to party on you // Watch me, watch me party on you.”
Charli XCX is able to combine an outstanding balance between artistry and sensation amidst the entire project. She manages to still remain true to pushing genre boundaries like she has often previously done so well. For example, on the hyper-pop song “Anthems”, which is surprisingly excellently produced by the eclectic newcomer Dylan Brady she croons: “Wake up late and eat some cereal // Try my best to be physical // Lose myself in a TV show // Staring out to oblivion // All my friends are invisible // Twenty four-seven, miss ’em all.”
The intimate sounds of “Enemy” provide a new wave of euphoria, especially for anyone going through the ups and downs of a relationship in the midst of such a grave time of anxiety and disparity for so many. The sweet and honest “Detonate” is self-conflicting, and borders on the line of confessional self-sabotage, but Charli aptly makes it work and it fits in like magic. Along the same lines is the relatable and reminiscent sound of “7 Years”, which was actually rumored to be a personal ode. However, for all the pop brilliance How I’m Feeling Now offers, at times the experimental juices go awry. The sub-standard “C2.0” and “Visions” both leave much to be desired, possibly when last calls for alcohol at the bar might be happening.
Although, when it’s all said and done Charli XCX ends up doing us the best favor ever. Promising and dropping her project in a way as only she rightfully could, in real time. Delivering a much needed invite along her pop centric virtual reality tour when she knew people may have needed it the most. Whether intentional or not, the fact that this project was done in an exclusive online setting is a contemporary world feat in itself, and highly fitting! In a generation of forward-thinking millennials, How I’m Feeling Now reminds us and encompasses how everyone has felt at some point or another, (both good and bad) throughout this modern wave of cultural insanity.