Charli XCX has just dropped her third studio album. It is just 37 minutes long and yet she made the entire thing in just five-and-a-half weeks. This makes How I’m Feeling Now the first album produced by a major artist to emerge entirely out of Covid-19 quarantine.
Charli XCX first announced the album at the start of April and promised fans that it would arrive by the 15th of May. She said: “It’ll be very DIY — I’ll make it from scratch, very indicative of the times we’re in.” And so, in less than six weeks, the pop innovator sat down to write, record, and produce an album entirely in isolation.
Charli XCX’s deadline may have been ambitious, but How I’m Feeling Now is a futurist-pop album that follows up nicely from 2019’s Charli. It is experimental, innovative and without the typical star-studded collaboration list we’ve come to expect from Charli XCX, the album seems to offer a more authentic insight into the life of the creative pop star.
“Pink Diamond” is a mishmash of futuristic rave sounds and disjointed beats. Charli roars: “I just wanna go real hard!” channeling the clubber’s lockdown frustration. She follows the track up with “forever”, which is accompanied by a music video made up of a compilation of fan video clips. It’s a subterranean-sounding pop song with bubblegum vocals and a relatable sentiment.
As the album unfolds, it meanders through an unusual jumble of sounds. The lack of consistency in the album sounds unpolished, and yet it is the “DIY album” that she promised. The creative freedom that pulses through the album is something to cling onto in these strange isolation anxiety-inducing times. It sounds like an album that Charli XCX made in five-and-a-half weeks of self-isolation, and that is not a bad thing.
Does the album stand up outside the context of self-isolation? In short, yes, it does. Even though its brilliance comes down to Charli’s success in expressing something we are all feeling, these songs will still hold up when we finally do go clubbing. “Pink Diamond” is going to eventually become a pre-drinks banger and “party 4 u” is a song to dance to with your friends as well as on your own.