A future glimpse of greatness can be seen in Baby Queen's debut album.
Following 2021’s “mixtape” ‘The Yearbook’, rising pop starlet Arabella “Baby Queen” Latham has today finally released her debut album, ‘Quarter Life Crisis’, marking a stellar debut long-form foray into the alt-pop landscape.
It opens with second single ‘We Can Be Anything’, featured in the marvelously successful final episode of the second series of Netflix’s teen drama ‘Heartstopper’, where a lot of Bella’s claim to fame comes from through its use of her music. It’s an uplifting track – as the name suggests – and sets a positive tone for the album.
What follows is genius. The song discusses the internet ruining true creativity and talent in the face of a quick second of fame, on platforms like TikTok, with Bella not being able to express her creativity successfully in the face of people who do just do whatever they can for a quick buck. With a catchy hook, and interesting production this song stands out with its almost controversial concept.
‘Dream Girl’ comes next, the first single from this campaign. It is Bella’s first exploration into her queer identity on this album, and feels like a more pop-y version of Dove Cameron’s ‘Boyfriend’, the feelings of knowing a woman could treat a woman (the dream girl in question) better than a man. It’s very cheeky and funny but ultimately a really interesting continuation of the sorts of similar queer music being made in the past few years.
I can’t get my shit together and ‘Love Killer’ come next and while they’re totally on brand for Baby Queen with interesting production and her classic speak-sing style, don’t stand out to me hugely. They’re interesting in concept but seem to serve just as part of the puzzle rather than saying anything new.
‘Grow Up’ is our halfway point and from the first note was definitely something that stood out to me, and the concept is supremely relatable. Bella discussed not knowing when it is that you get to that “mental age” everyone expects you be as an adult (“I’m almost 25”) and not being able to reach that because you have a childlike personality, and not knowing what growing up actually means. It’s a song I definitely foresee Gen Z completely running with. The titular song follows this, and almost echoes it’s messages about growing up but being aware of how old you are and coming to a point of confusion and crisis in who you are supposed to be and what you’re supposed to be doing.
‘Die Alone’ taps back into romantic endeavours but this time in the hopeless feeling of not knowing if she believes in the childlike fantasy of soulmates. It brings the upbeat tempo of the album all the way down and reflects the mood of the song perfectly. The line that’s sticks out to me most is “someone for every body, no body for me” as it’s almost that gut wrenching worry that maybe you do have to do life alone, especially in the age of online dating.
Obvious is another deeply gut wrenching track, keeping the slower tempo and sullen tones. Bella discusses her departure from South Africa at a young age to pursue a career in music in the UK, not to return for four years due to COVID. For avid Noah Kahan fans, it feels almost like the perspective of the girl leaving her hometown in ‘You’re Gonna Go Far’.
’23’ is an interesting story of bisexuality and how there’s often an expectation for Bella to conform to heteronormativity because it’s an option, but her bisexuality “is just the way she feels” and can’t justify it any other way, and the conflict between following her heart and experimenting with the same sex but ultimately feeling the pressure of heteronormativity too.
‘every time i get high’ is a psychedelic mind trip and i love the way Bella attempts to take the listener on the journey her brain goes on in those moments. The stacked layers , looser and more open vocals hiding behind the production t give the illusion of it not being too clear to understand. It’s almost a stream of consciousness and feels really interesting to experience and listen to.
Bella ends out the album with ‘a letter to myself a 17’. To me, it’s all the things she wish she could tell her younger self, as a sort of closure. Being the last song on the album its almost where she ends up making her dreams come true, and is a fantastic finale for an almighty album. On the whole, this album serves as a scrapbook and a journal all wrapped in one for the listeners pleasure. It’s honest, but deeply creative and ingenious with concepts that aren’t often covered in music. There’s truly something for everyone.