Charli XCX - How I'm Feeling Now

Regular price $ 29.99

If any pop star is uniquely equipped to be creative during hard times, it's Charli XCX. As her steady stream of singles, EPs, mixtapes, albums, and collaborations attest, being productive is her natural state of being. She's also remarkably connected to her fans and other artists through her social media platforms, and used this very 2020s version of fame to invite fans into her creative process. In the early days of sheltering in place during the COVID-19 pandemic, she vowed to create a brand-new album in just six weeks, using the tools she had at hand as well as the input of her fans and trusted producers like A. G. Cook and BJ Burton. In many ways, the humbly titled how i'm feeling now, with its lowercase spelling and lack of punctuation, captures the frozen-in-time yet fleeting feel of quarantine life as it returns to the fundamentals of her music. This isn't an album of acoustic guitar ruminations -- if anything, it shows XCX is just as committed to making cutting-edge electronic pop music while holed up in her L.A. home as she was when she could work face-to-face with her creative team. Featuring production by 100 gecs' Dylan Brady, "claws" pits an innocent singsong melody against booming bass and clanking trap rhythms that sound like they might have been made by wind-up toys. She pushes the envelope even farther with the streaking, overtly futuristic "pink diamond" and "c2.0," a track whose rubbery tones and helium-laced vocals call to mind the work of her frequent collaborator SOPHIE. Aside from "party 4 u," which feels like a miniature of Charli's more introspective moments, how i'm feeling now's songwriting has a smaller scope than it did on her last album, but XCX makes up for that by packing in as many hooks and feelings as she can. Equally sweet and challenging, mischievous and heartfelt, "forever" is pure Charli XCX. When she sings about staying emotionally close "even when we're not together," she touches on connections that were even more treasured at the time of the album's release, when many people were forced to be alone and jobs, relationships, and lives were in flux. And though the album's songs aren't literally about living in quarantine, they're certainly relatable. On the pensive Palmistry, Cook, and Mechatok-produced "i finally understand," XCX digs into the feelings, good and bad, that being truly intimate with someone -- and having time to reflect on a relationship -- engenders. It's a mood she expands on blissfully with "7 years" and with more ambivalence on "enemy," one of the album's prettiest and most fleshed-out songs. While it may not be the proper sequel to the ambitious Charli, how i'm feeling now's rawness and immediacy give it an appeal all its own. More than just an interesting social media experiment or a way to fend off quarantine boredom, it's an artistic challenge that's true to the very best parts of XCX's music.

1 Pink Diamond 2:04
2 Forever 4:03
3 Claws 2:29
4 7 Years 3:15
5 Detonate 3:39
6 Enemy 3:43
7 I Finally Understand 2:31
8 C2.0 3:40
9 Party 4 U 4:56
10 Anthems 2:51
11 Visions 3:49