Charli XCX how i'm feeling now Asylum Records
On Charli XCX’s self-described quarantine album how i’m feeling now, her field of view has never been more vast. Drawing from UK garage, trap, bubblegum pop and well-after-midnight techno, XCX’s fourth full-length interrogates, questions and opens up space within what might otherwise feel like the most claustrophobic period in many of our lives.
A product of conversations with fans online, written and produced through broadcasts and in collaboration with a range of artists including Mechatok, A.G. Cook and Dylan Brady of 100 gecs, how i’m feeling now is full of love songs, but it’s not a love letter to any one person or place. Streets, parks, and sidewalks have become battlegrounds, and our increasingly interior lives are mediated by the pressure to share them with those in our vicinity. Now, our experiences of this period are characterised by who we see: the people we live with by choice or coincidence, the people we work with, those we’d love to see, but can’t or won’t. how i’m feeling now is an album about longing, loneliness, and what comes next.
Whereas Pop 2, Number 1 Angel, and Charli leaned heavily into a curated pick-n-mix of guest stars and cameos, how i’m feeling now returns to Charli XCX alone, with the artist playing her own supporting cast. On c2.0 she flips Click off of Charli into something more interstellar, more dissociative, and more breathlessly dizzying than the original. Stripped of traded verses with guest vocalists, how i’m feeling now hones in on Charli XCX’s voice and songwriting at its most tender and reflective.
Here, Charli XCX has taken on a formidable task. The album is, by definition, an archive of both quarantine conditions and of, well, how she feels within them. What’s incredible is how effective of an archive it is. The album’s extended outro captures the feeling of blurry looks across a crowded dancefloor, but also the restless nostalgia of not knowing when we’ll share these intimate moments again.