‘how i’m feeling now’ is an innovative exploration of Charli XCX’s time in lockdown during the unprecedented COVID-19 global pandemic.
There is no other album like it because no one has ever done something this ambitious and transparent before in the music industry. Not only did she push herself to be creative during this confusing time, but she also opened the door to complete transparency by allowing fans to weigh in on all the huge decisions like what singles to release, what artwork to have, be apart of the vision for the music videos and even allowed them to write a verse with her on Instagram live. And on top of all that, she wrote and recorded the album in less than 5 weeks.
The eleven track record is a cohesive collection of tracks that feels like a stronger and more consistent body of work than her recent last studio album ‘Charli’. And that comes down to the genuine aura and flow behind this record that saw everything come together very authentically.
As hinted by the title, this whole album is about how she is feeling now. It reflects on isolation and the confusing nature of the current time as well as looking at her relationship and how this situation has brought her and her partner closer together.
The lead singles ‘forever’, ‘Claws’ and ‘i finally understand’ embody that romantic exploration and reflect on the realistic pressure that being in lockdown with someone 24/7 can put on a relationship. But then she dives deeper on songs like ‘detonate’ and ‘enemy’ where she reflects on self doubt and courageously letting her guard down.
Soaked in glitchy synths and smooth pop hooks, she sonically continues the evolution her music has been having over the past few years. It’s confident, fun and experimentally charged.
‘7 years’ is one of the albums early highlights and it returns to that loved up storyline that ‘forever’ captured. The glitchy pop ballad is immediately euphoric and will have you wanting to sing the hook loudly at one of her next shows.
“I know that look inside my eyes means always, even if we fall apart, split two ways” she sings during the emotive chorus.
But the chaotic ‘anthems’ could just be the actual anthem for this whole project. This is a song I’d expect to hear on a early 2000’s Playstation game with it’s pulsating bass and PC-pop craziness. It reflects on the “new normal”, the things we miss and what we want to return to ASAP.
“These days exhausting. Go online shopping. I’m so uninspired, I just wanna breathe. Flowers and the trees, dirt all on my knees. Got some hands to hold on to” she sings during the second verse which was co-written by fans on Instagram live.
As she heads towards the end of the album she gets even more experimental with the production and provides tracks like ‘c2.0’, ‘party 4 u’ and ‘visions’ that feel like they came straight off her ‘Number 1 Angel’ and ‘Pop 2’ mixtapes. Their DIY attributes help give such a playful touch to the album which is quintessential Charli XCX.
The whole creative journey of this album is documented and it perfectly serves as a gift to her fans and anyone that wants to escape for a brief moment.
‘how i’m feeling now’ is a transparent and fun record that serves as a time capsule for anyone to look back on in the future to see what COVID-19 felt and looked like in an artistic way. She’s opened her heart and pushed boundaries to create this album and it really feels like a success.
It’s safe to say that Charli XCX really did THAT.