It's tense but important times right now. But with everything going on, a project that can only be referred to as ‘right for right now’ drops from two hopeful young women who can definitely change the scope of R&B in years to come. Yep, I’m talking about Chloe x Halle. Their long-awaited sophomore LP dropped a few days ago and after a couple listens, I’m about to give an honest, open review of this contemporary r&b project.
So for those who haven’t listened to a Chloe x Halle project before, I’m gonna try paint the picture for you. Actually, I’ve made a pie chart for you. It truly is the only way it’ll make sense. Exhibit A:
Now, I do wanna say that even with all these influences, they are so so so unique and unlike any ONE artist; but it’s because their influences are so heavy in the make-up of these young womens sound. Now, let’s get into ‘Ungodly Hour’.
Intro + Forgive Me
The project starts with the singers harmonising and proceeding to exclaim “don’t ever ask for permission, ask for forgiveness” - a mood. These two are so in sync, it gets me every time. Their voices marry like peanut butter + jelly, chicken + chipThe project s, cheese + toast - you get my drift. With Chloe holding down the darker notes and Halle adding the lighter elements, they just fuck.it.up. every time. Then we jump strait into Forgive Me, a light bop and the second single from the project. This is not one of my standouts personally and I actually appreciate them releasing this, because it only goes up from here.
Baby Girl + Do It
‘Baby Girl’, a song that almost feels like CxH speaking on their motivation with lines like “Do it for the girls, All around the world” and the outro “So don't you forget about, the little girl that you met now, the one that's in your spirit, she's still got your back, yeah, don't you let the world take back, all the love that you gave out, this is all our world now this is all your world now.” There’s a feeling of this song meaning a lot to them; especially with Chloe producing this song herself.
We transition into ‘Do It’, another bop. To be honest, it feels like cheating if you listen to this song without picturing the music video or at least the little hip shimmy dance routine from the video. This track still stands tall.
Tipsy + Ungodly Hour
So this is where we get the Gen-z dysfunctional pop-r&b vibe jumps out. Tipsy is a bouncy track with Halle on-lead delivering a melodic chorus that is so infectious that I was singing along by the second verse.
Now, we reach the title-track of the album. Chloe x Halle worked with Disclosure on this to make a summer-ready track reminiscent of late 90s r&b-dance crossover era. Luckily, its’ mid tempo and still has a bounce to it. It’s a stand-out track on the album but mores because there’s no other track that has this sound or vibe.
Busy Boy + Catch Up
Arguably one of the strongest songs on the album comes in next. Busy Boy is the ‘fuck-off’ energy that fall slap-banging the middle of the album. I promise, you won’t keep still in your seat listening to this one. The 90’s influence is heavy on this. It feels like a sequel to Ari Lennox’s ‘BMO’ and don’t at me. I don’t care, I had to make the comparison.
Moving on into what is arguably the weakest track on the album; and coincidentally the only one with features. Catch Up features Swae-Lee and 2013’s Mike-Will Made It. No. This ain’t it. Stepping into a sound and delivery that doesn’t feel like an experiment that needed to happen, CxH don’t feel like a natural fit on Catch Up. It’s a throwaway track that will most likely get radio-play. For the bigger picture, I can see why this is here, but it isn’t on par with the rest of the album. Soz.
Overwhelmed + Lonely
Overwhelmed, on the same flex as the intro, is a sequence of melodies, harmonies and just… niceness. It’s a nice breakup of the album up until this point; allowing you to take in the greatest songs on the project.
Lonely is another track that just feels soothing and nice (I need to learn some new adjectives). Message-wise, it’s nice to hear them talk about loneliness; a very real thing, and for it to feel comforting. “I know you wish you had somebody to hold, it don't have to be lonely being alone”.
Don’t Make It Harder On Me + Wonder What She Thinks Of Me
Okaayyyyy so here we are. DMIHOM is one of those songs in a project where it FEELS like the artist is telling you to now listen, we’re cruising into our peak song. Like an audio pivot from what was happening, to what is about to happen. Some examples on other artists’ projects:
Janelle Monae - I Like That, Don’t Judge Me, Stevie’s Dream
Jazmine Sullivan - Stanley, Masterpiece (Mona Lisa)
Sampa The Great - Give Love, The Return, Don’t Give Up, Made Us Better
Beyonce - Forward, Freedom, All Night
‘I Wonder What She Thinks Of Me’ is an intense track. Needless to say, you can hear the influence of them being artists managed by Beyonce. Even if she doesn’t touch their music, the dramatics rubs off on to them. IWWSTOM is adorned with strings, a Spanish guitar and reverb for days; beautiful. It constantly builds and the story feels deep. Chloe x Halle both perform their verses in the same style and format; with some lines repeating which doubles down on the intensity of the songs story.
So this is one of those songs you end a concert with and have the crowd (of teens) jumping on each others converses and (baby) mosh-pitting; if they’re into that kind of thing. The songs vibe is a light-cocky serve with a regal energy; even with the artists emoting the lyrics differently by dramatising their word pronunciation. It was a good idea to end on this track considering; it brings you back to earth to round-off the moment after the previous two tracks which had you flying in the clouds; truly.
I did not have any expectations before listening to this project. Of course, I’ve seen them perform before, listened to a track here or there but never a full album exclaiming their sound wasn’t for me. But Chloe & Halle Bailey have grown up. Now in their early 20’s, they let us know they aren’t the 14 year-old girls singing ‘Pretty Hurts’ on Youtube anymore. This is a journey I’m excited to see. Imagine two bosses taking to the stage around the world turning it out at award shows and braking records; AND their sisters? My minnndddd. 4.5 out of 5.
Words by Diartha.