Baby Queen – Quarter Life Crisis

A return that illustrates a different angle to her songwriting...

Anarchic alt-pop star Baby Queen returns with her sophomore album favouring a blend of her signature charming cliches and upbeat synths, fit for another heart-stopper soundtrack whilst hosting some of her most songwriting yet on mellow deep cuts. 

‘Quarter Life Crisis’ seeks to commemorate a state of both reflection and self-deprecation. Themes that, whilst being a reoccurrence through Baby Queen’s discography, have yet to be explored by the songstress in such a cohesive instance. 

Synth-packed opener ‘We Can Be Anything’ feels like a testament to Baby Queen as a brand; plenty of snare drums with a cliche yet catchy chorus repeating the lyrics: “We can be anything, that’s awesome don’t you think?’” It’s these slightly overworked, intended to be, inspirational phrases which have aided Baby Queen in establishing a connection with her, predominantly younger, clan of dedicated fans. 

Continuing to border on a bubblegum-pop-esque sound ‘Kid Genius’ follows on from ‘We Can Be Anything’ in yet another upbeat, fast-paced fashion juxtaposed by the song’s more cynical content critiquing the internet. Lyrics such as “reality is stuck on a screen” seek to parody the pressures of social media, a theme previously touched upon by Baby Queen in fan favourite ‘Internet Religion’ which the song ‘Kid Genius’ appears to sequel. ‘Kid Genius’ speaks for a portion of the younger generation falling out of love with social media to a soundtrack of echoed harmonies and electric guitar. The tongue-in-cheek lyrics make fun of general messages about the importance of social media broadcasted within an echo chamber of influences, “you don’t have to go school just go online it’s super cool”.

 ‘Quarter Life Crisis’ also exhibits Baby Queen dipping a toe into some more hyper-pop tendencies, on a few of the earlier tracks on the album. “I can’t get my shit together” maintains an energetic pace throughout the track and ventures into maximalist electronic beats as well as distorted vocals within the chorus, almost reminiscent of a 2010’s Charli XCX beat. The frenzied production of the song is complimented by its chaotic contents, exploring the relatable facets of ‘adulting’ and balancing that with the pressures of making the most of your youth. 

Baby Queen’s venture into a sonically hyper-pop-influenced style of songwriting continues following the track ‘Love Killer’ containing vocal traps whilst straying from her signature glimmering synths and upbeat riffs. 

‘Quarter Life Crisis’, fittingly, matures as the album progresses. Themes of generational anarchy become less apparent making room for yearning, grief and reflection. The track ‘Grow Up’ seems to signify this turning point within the album hosting echoing soft vocals, toned-down production and hazy keys amongst vulnerable and self-deprecating, honest lyrics. ‘Grow Up’ not only signifies a turning point within the album but also a new depth to Baby Queen as a songstress who details specifics of her personal life within her lyrics in a similar style to her self-proclaimed idol, Taylor Swift. Ambiguity is shed from the songwriting at this stage of the album making for the starlet’s most honest tracks of her career and showing a pivot from the more relatable lyrics which have previously been favoured by TikTok as well as the Heartstopper soundtrack

Baby Queen’s artistic vulnerability peaks on the deep cut ‘Obvious’, a song she’s described in recent live performances to be “the saddest song” she’s “ever written”. ‘Obvious’ captures a reflection on the life Baby Queen left behind in her hometown of Durban, South Africa to endeavour her dream of making it in the music industry, moving to London. ‘Obvious’ grieves her past life, friends and close ones who have passed offering a bittersweet angle to her success story. 

The album fittingly concludes with ‘A letter to myself at 17’ which is everything the title claims to be, a reflection on the anxieties of Baby Queen’s teenage years with anecdotes of advice to her younger self. No doubt these lyrics of reassurance will additionally act as a voice of guidance to her fanbase, most of which, will be at the coming-of-age stage of their life. 

Overall ‘Quarter Life Crisis’ reigns true to Baby Queen’s signature synth-pop sound whilst being let down by lyrical cliches on a couple of the more manufactured upbeat, pop tracks. The album, however, triumphs on the more toned-down tracks showing a new dimension to the alt-pop starlet’s songwriting style. A twelve-track delight that merely misses the mark on it’s anarchic singles. 

7/10

Words: Lauren Hague

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