A level of mystique has actually long surrounded how artists bottle their magic. In 2015, PJ Harvey– an increasingly private British artist– exposed the recording of her Hope Six Demolition Project to public view at London’s Somerset House, workshopping the songs behind one-way glass.
Fast-forward five years, and Charli XCX— increasingly public British artist Charlotte Aitchison– has launched an album written, recorded, produced and art-directed in the area of a few weeks, with extraordinary levels of real-time scrutiny through social media. The only pre-Covid tune here is party4u, a formerly unreleased fan favourite.
Not only has How I’m Feeling Now been produced at terminal velocity and under lockdown constraints– conveniently the Hertfordshire-raised singer lives in Los Angeles with her two managers and her partner, Huck Kwong, who is excellent with a cam— but the 27- year-old Aitchison has actually turned the notion of imaginative show-and-tell approximately11 She has actually effectively taken ownership of “the lockdown album” (see the release schedule for the next 24 months).
Fan interaction is nothing brand-new.
Aitchison has gone even more, establishing an email address for prospective manufacturers to send out beats to, airing lyrics-in-progress and screenshots of texts with partners. She’s hosted Zoom conferences with fans, published updates from her bathroom, focus-grouped her output by means of her socials On 21 April, Aitchison reported she had cried due to the fact that she was putting too much pressure on her partners. Last Monday, a clip on her Instagram feed showed how she was stitching together vocals (” comping”) for another tune, 7 Years
If the process has been dizzying to witness– how Aitchison continues to sustain her Apple Music Beats 1 program, interviews, and the personal maintenance of numerous social feeds together with music-making is a secret– the results have actually been extremely efficient.
Claws– a hyper-digital earworm– came out a fortnight ago, its title picked by fans. The playful video was shot on a home green screen(de rigueur amongst YouTubers). It’s a tune Aitchison might have done anyhow with producer Dylan Brady (of 100 Gecs), but more Do It Yourself. Surprisingly, considered that Aitchison’s posturing tunes often mirror her hard-partying lifestyle, Claws is a love song. “I love, I love, I enjoy whatever about you,” she sings.
Having actually clocked up a number of traditional hits a few years earlier, Aitchison now specialises in acrylic, outre, influencer club-pop, abetted by manufacturer AG Cook (in Montana with “bad wifi”, but co-exec producer nonetheless). Her renowned 2019 album, Charli, took some positive strides back towards the mainstream with blowsy tracks like White Mercedes and guests like Haim and Christine and the Queens.
How I’m Feeling Now is light on guests (deliberately so) and polish. It returns to the gleeful interruption of her more ear-bleeding work, while piling on sing-song tunes. And if the interactivity of this record is, maybe, restricted to fans passing judgment on art work, the overriding impression is that How I’m Feeling Now is really a work of its time– not simply the Covid age, with its own Dogme-like specifications– however the always-on feedback loop of output and remarks that opts for creative culture now.
Aitchison’s work is clearly not for everybody; it aggressively foregrounds its own artifice. In this corner of club-pop, which takes hints from trap and K-pop, skull-drilling repeating is a function, not a bug.
Aitchison has never specialised in over-intellectualisation, choosing bangers that reside in the giddy moment. Pink Diamond (” I just wan na go genuine hard”) is all icy drama. Anthems, too, boasts OTT rave stabs (and the faintest impression of Basement Jaxx). It’s a paean to partying, with included self-knowledge. In all this lairiness you discover occasional admissions that Aitchison is trying to fill some space. Another tune, C2.0, is an ode to how she is missing “her clique”; of all these tracks, it sounds the most thrown-together.
If these tunes are more off the cuff than in the past, nothing here sounds unprofessional. Some lyrics have actually not exactly been sweated-over– “I like you permanently, even when we’re not together,” goes Permanently– however they chime with individuals feeling acutely separated from loved ones.
The tune is, naturally, another heart emoji to Kwong. It’s not the last. “You enjoy me even when I dislike myself, I make sure,” intones an Auto-Tuned Aitchison on I Finally Understand, whose exceptional bouncy beat originates from producer Palmistry; 7 Years is a hydraulic ballad that covers Aitchsion and Kwong’s long on/off affair.
In a Zane Lowe interview, Aitchison said that her and Kwong’s relationship had been physically and mentally far-off previous to lockdown. Quarantine had brought them better. “How do you express that you love someone 10 different times on an album without simply sounding sycophantic?” she joked. If the title flags its own diaristic objectives, How I’m Feeling Now shows this workaholic party animal’s gratitude for love.
How I’m Feeling Now is out now via Atlantic/Asylum.