Charli XCX's How I'm Feeling Now: What You Need To Know
Every cloud has a silver lining, or so the dusty old adage goes, but while there have been precious few of those to be had as a result of the huge, ongoing cloud that has been the COVID-19 lockdown, for fans of Charli XCX the arrival of an entire album that was both conceived and recorded during lockdown has surely been one of them.
First released digitally in May this year, the album finally makes its arrival in physical form this week, with both CD and vinyl versions of the album in stores from today. So, for those who haven't been keeping up with all things Charli, here's everything you need to know...
A little background...
Prior to the COVID pandemic, Charli XCX had already announced, in November last year, that she was planning to record not one but two albums over the course of this year. When lockdown kicked in, plans were changed slightly, and so Chali has the idea of making an album that would be a kind of collaboration with her fans.
First announced on a zoom call with fans, she explained: “The nature of this album is going to be very indicative of the times just because I'm only going to be able to use the tools I have at my fingertips to create all music, artwork, videos everything."
Using Zoom to demo ideas and solicit feedback from fans, the album was put together over approximately four weeks in April and May, the album was quickly released online just a week after its completion.
Who's producing it?
Brian 'Danger Mouse' Burton and Alexander Guy Cook are the album's main conrtributors on the production front, but there's alos input from Dylan Brady, Danny L Harle and Benjamin Keating.
Any special guests?
Burton does lend some heavily vocoder-ed vocals to '7 years', but other than that it's all Charli on her own here.
What does it sound like?
As you might expect given the nature of its creation, this is a much more direct and intimate iteration of her signature style, stripped of over-glossy production and, for the most part, all the better for it.
That's not to say this is a gentle, acoustic record filled only with pianos and guitars – indeed some of its standout moments such as 'claws' and '7 years' are filled with wonky synths, heavily processed vocals and all manner of electronica, but it's all done in a way that makes it sound like a huge amount of fun to make.
Does it deliver?
It's sometimes said that applying limitations to yourself can work wonders for creativity, and although in this instance those limitations – whether they be access to an expensive studio or just jamming in a room with other musicians - have been forced upon her by life and circumstance, the result is still a positive one.
Arriving at the time and in the manner that it did, How I'm Feeling Now is not only a very good record made under difficult circumstances – but one which will have no doubt brought some light to her fans in a period of darkness.