How We’re Feeling Now: 5 Takeaways From Charli XCX’s New Album

How We’re Feeling Now: 5 Takeaways From Charli XCX’s New Album

How We’re Feeling Now: 5 Takeaways From Charli XCX’s New Album

Exploring the highs and lows of life amidst quarantine

Exploring the highs and lows of life amidst quarantine

Text: Dante Silva

Charli XCX’s recently released project How I’m Feeling Now opens with “I just want to go real hard”an all too familiar feeling for those under mandated self-isolation. For the pop architect, going hard has become somewhat quotidian, as previous work in Pop 2 and No. 1 Angel is meant for the post-3-am psychedelic highs, intoxicating acoustic experiences never quite grounded to reality. Yet even renowned artists must now go hard from their living rooms, not quite as enthralling as the electronic underground scene. Still, Charli XCX has managed to produce an album solely from the revamped inner workings of her psyche, work (almost) as idiosyncratic, and volatile as ongoing times. 

Here, we attempt to delve into the sonic atmosphere she creates. Though, needless to say, surfacing How I’m Feeling Now in its entirety is a futile effort.

1. The Bounds of Digital Creation are (Seemingly) Endless

How I’m Feeling Now was conceptualized and produced during Charli XCX’s isolation in Los Angeles, a collaborative project with producers Dijon and A. G. Cook. The eleven-track album is a testament to the 27-yea-old’s prowess, an innovative look at the creative process under quarantine. As those processes become remote, Charli has been able to meticulously document her songwriting/video constructions, allowing insight into the (digital) realm of a utopian pop landscape. 

In every step of How I’m Feeling Now Charli XCX has engaged with her fanbase, allowing for their input. Whether on the track party 4 u, which has circulated amidst ‘Charli’s Angels’ for quite some time, or those born of recent inspirations, digital interface has facilitated an accessible DIY experience. 

2. There’s No Such Thing as ‘Normalcy’ 

In an era dominated by uncertainty, most conventions cease to apply. For Charli XCX, those conventions were never quite a concern to begin with. The singer/songwriter has long broken down ‘normal’ and all its metonyms, instead exploring anxieties and tensions through the avant-garde.

In quarantine especially, Charli XCX has stated: “I need to make something authentic and real, and representative of what I’m going through, what we’re all going through.” 

While producing an album might not be what we’re all going through (unfortunately), the volatility certainly resonates. With impending ‘detonation’ next to an ode to claws, the project attempts (and fails) to find consistency amidst the chaos. Instead, it revels in its own imperfections, mirroring its surroundings.

Perhaps, we could all use the reminder: ‘normalcy’ is entirely subjective.

3. Charli is ‘Feeling’ Very, Very, in Love Right Now

Charli XCX has been quarantined with on again off again partner Huck Kwong, whom she seems to be deeply, deeply enamored with. Tracks such as ‘7 Years’, ‘Claws’, and ‘Party 4 U’ repeat lines such as ‘I like everything about you’ with an infallible frequency, culminating with ‘Visions’ of the two together. 

The entire project is part love letter, part memorialization of her current romance, one Charli XCX has said “feels euphoric, but also intense and unknown”. 

4. Some Answers to the Question Is Charli XCX a Pop Star?

Mainstream outlets previously asked “Is Charli XCX a pop star?” unable to reconcile industry success with her experimental leanings. Previous projects have seemed to ruminate on a potential ‘bubblegum pop’ trajectory, yet were never quite content with a more polished sound. 

By How I’m Feeling Now Charli XCX had already become a cult sensation in her own right, tuning her sound (and accompanying aesthetic) to the tune of her own, synthetically produced drums. The album merely solidifies this status, appropriating the more rigid ‘pop star’ trope to account for her own ever-changing expression.

Far more important than pop stardom is the connection cultivated with her fans, of which the artist has stated, “Thank u for all of your contributions and support. it’s been such an amazing experience and i’m so so proud to have you all as my fans."

5. Hope and Anthems for the Future

Charli XCX has introduced us to futuristic sounds since the early 2010s, constantly embodying what’s next through tech-induced harmonics.

Now, more than ever, it becomes increasingly difficult to conjure visions of the future, an abyss fraught with dissonance. While disorienting, and embedded with nostalgia for the past (such as in ‘c2.0’), tracks present the vulnerability and self-assurance to move through the highs and lows sure to come. Charli XCX manages to ascertain a degree of optimism, conjuring a ‘tomorrow’ to rival the most blurred, eccentric nights out of the past. 

At the very least, Charli XCX has said: “I just feel like I want to go out, blow off some steam, get fucked up, do a lot of bad things and wake up feeling terrible.”

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