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Album review: Charli XCX’s ‘How I’m Feeling Now’

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Three stars

Charli XCX How I’m Feeling Now

I didn’t like How I’m Feeling Now on first listen. Charli XCX’s reaction to the coronavirus lockdown—11 DIY tracks recorded over the course of six weeks—is completely in line with the sound we associate with the “I Love It” composer; it’s shiny, sexy, aggressively artificial and intended for consumption in now-dangerous packed clubs. But on second listen I was ensnared on the hooks, and on the third I discovered the thread of melancholia running through all that bright, robotic frenzy.

Lyrically, How I’m Feeling Now is a pandemic-era Instagram Live post—strongly biographical, probably pants-less. “Wake up late, eat some cereal/try my best to be physical,” she sings in the fist-pumping “Anthems.” In the Prince-reminiscent “7 Years,” she discovers a depth of feeling for her lockdown partner: “We went from distant to inseparable types.” But even tracks that escape lockdown are aware of it (“In real life, could the club even handle us?” she sings in “Pink Diamond”), and by the album closer “Visions,” it’s clear that Charli XCX, like many of us, is trying to see the past few homebound months as a reset. “Voices tell me hold on … I got pictures in my mind,” she sings, perhaps considering the front door and the possibilities on the other side of it.

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