Charli XCX delivers relatable lyrics and rich digital soundscapes in her newest album “how i’m feeling now,” originally released digitally in May 2020. Her experimental electronica pop sound is starting to mesh with her recent club pop style while staying true to the thematic roots of pop — love and loss.
Charli XCX created this album entirely during quarantine and it’s fair to say this is a time capsule for her. The album–holding to its title–is full of candid emotions. The tracks vary from reflections on loneliness to celebrations of close connection and love. Some of the feelings of distance and longing ring especially true to pandemic-spurred isolation. But ultimately the album stays positive with themes of wanting connection, appreciating the love we have, and looking forward to reuniting with people.
Some of the bangers on this album are “detonate,” “c2.0,” and “anthems.” Many of the other tracks diverge from the high, sometimes chaotic energy of these and offer more reflective and mellow sounds (“forever,” “7 years,” “”enemy,” “party 4 u”).
Audiophiles who loved the texture of M.I.A.’s Paper Planes might like “claws” for its synth percussion and marching beat with metalworking factory atmosphere, but Claws’ sound is distinctly softer with romantic lyrics and smoother electronic instrumentation.
My favorite track, “detonate,” is the most negative track on the album. The destructive feelings Charli expresses in it are mirrored by the lyrics and music. One of my favorite components is its anxiously bubbling synth instrumentation behind Charli’s vocals that bring the song’s emotions of anxiety through to the bridge and subsequent speed up to the track’s ending ‘detonation.’ I also love c2.0– a 2.0 version of “Click” from her 2019 album “Charli.” It’s a song devoted to close friendship–one of my favorite themes in media. And the transformation in sound from opening crunchy statis beats of monotonous sadness to a more nostalgic longing and reminiscing with smooth layered vocals and accompanying mellowed harpsichord-like synth is a satisfying release of tension into the sound of gold-lit memories.
Whether you’re seeking relatable songs as we enter the winter months of the pandemic or want some solid club pop with a rave ending, “how i’m feeling now” will help carry you through with love.