Home Lifestyle Camila Cabello stylishly rebrands herself with her new album, ‘C,XOXO’

Camila Cabello stylishly rebrands herself with her new album, ‘C,XOXO’


In pop music, declaring yourself weird is proof that you’re not.

Renowned musician Camila Cabello. Picture: The Washington Post

CAMILA Cabello keeps telling everyone that her new music is “weird,” but that might just be code for “Florida.”

Having spent the past few years of her stardom making patently non-weird decisions – to tour with Coldplay, to duet with Ed Sheeran, to star as Cinderella in a Hollywood jukebox musical – the Miami-raised singer’s fourth album, “C,XOXO,” which was released on Friday, June 28, oozes toward the inherent Floridian strangeness of Disney World, “Spring Breakers” and rising sea levels.

In pop music, declaring yourself weird is proof that you’re not. But in Florida, pretty much everything is weird, which means Cabello suddenly sounds something like a realist.

She says so herself. “Magic and real like Murakami,” she coo-brags over the smothered piano twinkles of “Chanel No. 5,” nodding to the magical realism of Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami – which is a nice thing to hear after Florida led the US in attempted book bans in 2023.

The cover of Camila Cabello’s new album “C,XOXO.” Picture: Geffen/Interscope

For an even tidier declaration of neo-self, go straight to the song’s hook, where Cabello uses her digitised rasp to posit herself as a “cute girl with a sick mind.”

She’s telegraphing her makeover here, but at least she keeps it stylish and quick. The rest of Cabello’s big mutation is in the music itself, which – with the help of producers El Guincho and Jasper Harris – does all kinds of sci-fi tricks with its sleek timbres, exploded forms and sweet-tart moods.

On the more subtle side of that spectrum, there’s “B.O.A.T.,” a grieving piano ballad dedicated to “the best of all time.”

When Cabello’s heartsick chorus liquefies into rainbow rivulets of synthesiser melodies, she’s showing us that a slow song doesn’t have to be corny to be sentimental. It almost feels like a retort to decades of Disney.

Then on the other end, there’s “Dade County Dreaming,” a collaboration with the recently defunct Miami rap duo City Girls in which Cabello boasts at the edge of her breath, whispering self-aggrandisements in her loneliest voice. This one feels like a retort to too many years of Drake.

Oh no, we summoned him. For whatever reason, the deflated rapper appears on two consecutive cuts at the centre of this album, “Hot Uptown” and “Uuugly,” wandering around in his poseur patois while Cabello sings curlicues around him, delivering her melodies with a vitality that will remind you of that time Drake ruined Rihanna’s “Work.”

As for the album’s other misstep, it’s an unforced error at the very end titled “June Gloom,” a song about a particular type of summertime sadness that allows Cabello to waste three life-erasing minutes wishing she was Lana Del Rey.

At least that admiration felt mutual at Coachella back in April, when Del Rey invited Cabello onstage during her set to perform “I Luv It,” the most euphoric song on “C,XOXO” and a front-runner for the most vivid pop single of the year.

Have you heard this thing? First, a synth line see-saws like hurricane floodwater sloshing against a sliding patio door. Before long, Cabello gets stuck in the titular refrain like a nervous tic.

Then, the cherub choir from Gucci Mane’s “Lemonade” floats down from heaven in the form of a sample. Then, Playboi Carti saunters out of a parallel dimension and into his guest verse. By now, Cabello’s new thesis is all but written in the sky: We will know true pleasure by how strange it feels.

You only hear a pop singer rebranding herself? At a minimum, imagine a postcard from Florida carrying an ecstatic message of survival, penned in teal ink, the handwriting going slack as if melting in 2024’s apocalyptic sunshine: I luv it, I luv it, I luv it, I luv it, I luv it, I luv it, I luv it!

By: Chris Richards

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