Bebe speaks her whole truth on a riveting, contradictory, and exhilarating pop album…

Bebe Rexha seems to be travelling in a thousand different directions at once. One of pop’s brightest and most startling talents, she’s able to move from a trash-aesthetic to high-glam in the same video, with her many creative incongruities building into a singular aesthetic.

New album ‘Better Mistakes’ is her first in three years, a period that has seen the American star confirm her fluid sexuality, and her bipolar diagnosis. As a project, ‘Better Mistakes’ seems to be a determined attempt to exist beyond the barriers put in her way, a means of embracing her inner chaos while also linking it to an increasingly fragmented world.

A bulldozer 30 minute pop experience, ‘Better Mistakes’ affords Bebe Rexha space to amplify her potency while exposing her insecurities. Who else but Rexha, for example, could make space for both Travis Barker (on opener ‘Break My Heart Myself’) and a cover of wedding staple ‘Amore’ (alongside the actual Rick Ross)?

13 songs that punch out their truths and then dissipate, ‘Better Mistakes’ ramps up idea after idea. It’s an intriguing formula, one that seems to work: when Bebe Rexha misses – ‘On The Go’ doesn’t quite connect, for example – she’s able to reload and try again.

It all makes for a true rollercoaster experience. ‘Baby, I’m Jealous’ finds Bebe toying with Doja Cat, while Ty Dolla $ign illuminates ‘My Dear Love’. ‘Die For A Man’ is a hilarious statement of independence, while title track ‘Better Mistakes’ is an ultra-personal manifesto.

The lurid colours and intense sound palette push Bebe Rexha into a world of her own – too traditional for hyper-pop, too outrageous for the mainstream. She’s vivid, loud, and determined to speak her own truth on an album puts the pedal to the metal and never once lifts it. At times, the hurtling experience can be disorienting, but it puts you in line of the oft-quoted Walt Whitman phrase: Do I contradict myself? Very well then I contradict myself, (I am large, I contain multitudes.)

Bold and emphatic, ‘Better Mistakes’ is that rare thing: a pop record that truly exists in its own universe.

7/10

Words: Robin Murray

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