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Charli Xcx - how i'm feeling now

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how i'm feeling now

Charli Xcx

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If any pop star is uniquely equipped to be creative during hard times, it's Charli XCX. As her steady stream of singles, EPs, mixtapes, albums, and collaborations attest, being productive is her natural state of being. She's also remarkably connected to her fans and other artists through her social media platforms, and used this very 2020s version of fame to invite fans into her creative process. In the early days of sheltering in place during the COVID-19 pandemic, she vowed to create a brand-new album in just six weeks, using the tools she had at hand as well as the input of her fans and trusted producers like A. G. Cook and BJ Burton. In many ways, the humbly titled how i'm feeling now, with its lowercase spelling and lack of punctuation, captures the frozen-in-time yet fleeting feel of quarantine life as it returns to the fundamentals of her music. This isn't an album of acoustic guitar ruminations -- if anything, it shows XCX is just as committed to making cutting-edge electronic pop music while holed up in her L.A. home as she was when she could work face-to-face with her creative team. Featuring production by 100 gecs' Dylan Brady, "claws" pits an innocent singsong melody against booming bass and clanking trap rhythms that sound like they might have been made by wind-up toys. She pushes the envelope even farther with the streaking, overtly futuristic "pink diamond" and "c2.0," a track whose rubbery tones and helium-laced vocals call to mind the work of her frequent collaborator SOPHIE. Aside from "party 4 u," which feels like a miniature of Charli's more introspective moments, how i'm feeling now's songwriting has a smaller scope than it did on her last album, but XCX makes up for that by packing in as many hooks and feelings as she can. Equally sweet and challenging, mischievous and heartfelt, "forever" is pure Charli XCX. When she sings about staying emotionally close "even when we're not together," she touches on connections that were even more treasured at the time of the album's release, when many people were forced to be alone and jobs, relationships, and lives were in flux. And though the album's songs aren't literally about living in quarantine, they're certainly relatable. On the pensive Palmistry, Cook, and Mechatok-produced "i finally understand," XCX digs into the feelings, good and bad, that being truly intimate with someone -- and having time to reflect on a relationship -- engenders. It's a mood she expands on blissfully with "7 years" and with more ambivalence on "enemy," one of the album's prettiest and most fleshed-out songs. While it may not be the proper sequel to the ambitious Charli, how i'm feeling now's rawness and immediacy give it an appeal all its own. More than just an interesting social media experiment or a way to fend off quarantine boredom, it's an artistic challenge that's true to the very best parts of XCX's music.
© Heather Phares /TiVo

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how i'm feeling now

Charli Xcx

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1
pink diamond
00:02:04

DIJON, Producer, Drum Programmer, Synthesizer - Stuart Hawkes, Masterer - Charli Xcx, Engineer, Vocals, Background Vocals, Recorded by, MainArtist - Charlotte Aitchison, Composer - Geoff Swan, Mixer - BJ Burton, Vocal Production - A.G. Cook, Producer, Drum Programmer, Synthesizer - Alexander Guy Cook, Composer - Niko Battistini, Assistant Mixer - Dijon Duenas, Composer

© 2020 (P) and © Warner Records UK Limited. An Asylum Records UK release. ℗ 2020 (P) and © Warner Records UK Limited. An Asylum Records UK release.

2
forever
00:04:03

Stuart Hawkes, Masterer - Charli Xcx, Vocals, Backing Vocals, MainArtist - Charlotte Aitchison, Composer - Geoff Swan, Mixer - BJ Burton, Composer, Producer, Programmer, Drum Programmer, Synthesizer, Vocal Production - A.G. Cook, Producer, Programmer, Xylophone, Drum Programmer, Synthesizer, Vocal Production - Alexander Guy Cook, Composer - Niko Battistini, Assistant Mix Engineer

© 2020 (P) and © Warner Records UK Limited. An Asylum Records UK release. ℗ 2020 (P) and © Warner Records UK Limited. An Asylum Records UK release.

3
claws
00:02:29

Stuart Hawkes, Masterer - Charli Xcx, Vocals, Background Vocals, MainArtist - Charlotte Aitchison, Composer - Geoff Swan, Mixer - BJ Burton, Composer, Engineer, Vocal Production - Niko Battistini, Assistant Mixer - Dylan Brady, Composer, Producer, Drums, Drum Programmer, Bass, Synthesizer, Vocal Production

© 2020 (P) and © Warner Records UK Limited. An Asylum Records UK release. ℗ 2020 (P) and © Warner Records UK Limited. An Asylum Records UK release.

4
7 years
00:03:15

Stuart Hawkes, Masterer - Charli Xcx, MainArtist - Charlotte Aitchison, Composer, Engineer, Vocals, Backing Vocals, Recorded by - Geoff Swan, Mixer - BJ Burton, Composer, Producer, Remixer, Drum Programmer - A.G. Cook, Producer, Drum Programmer, Synthesizer - Alexander Guy Cook, Composer - Niko Battistini, Assistant Mix Engineer

© 2020 (P) and © Warner Records UK Limited. An Asylum Records UK release. ℗ 2020 (P) and © Warner Records UK Limited. An Asylum Records UK release.

5
detonate
00:03:39

Stuart Hawkes, Masterer - Charli Xcx, MainArtist - Charlotte Aitchison, Composer, Engineer, Vocals, Backing Vocals, Recorded by - Geoff Swan, Mixer - BJ Burton, Engineer, Additional Production, Moog, Vocal Production - A.G. Cook, Producer, Drum Programmer, Synthesizer, Vocal Production - Alexander Guy Cook, Composer - Niko Battistini, Assistant Mixer

© 2020 (P) and © Warner Records UK Limited. An Asylum Records UK release. ℗ 2020 (P) and © Warner Records UK Limited. An Asylum Records UK release.

6
enemy
00:03:42

Stuart Hawkes, Masterer - Charli Xcx, MainArtist - Charlotte Aitchison, Composer, Engineer, Vocals, Background Vocals, Recorded by - Jim-E Stack, Roland Paraphonic Keyboards - Geoff Swan, Mixer - James Stack, Composer - BJ Burton, Composer, Producer, Drums, Drum Programmer, Bass, Synthesizer, Vocal Production - Niko Battistini, Assistant Mix Engineer - Eli Teplin, Composer, Keyboards

© 2020 (P) and © Warner Records UK Limited. An Asylum Records UK release. ℗ 2020 (P) and © Warner Records UK Limited. An Asylum Records UK release.

7
i finally understand
00:02:31

Stuart Hawkes, Masterer - Charli Xcx, Backing Vocals, Lead Vocals, MainArtist - Charlotte Aitchison, Composer - Geoff Swan, Mixer - A.G. Cook, Drums, Additional Production, Drum Programmer, Additional Synthesizer, Bass, Synthesizer, Vocal Production, Additional Drum Programmer - Benjamin Keating, Composer, Producer, Drums, Backing Vocals, Drum Programmer, Bass, Synthesizer, Vocal Production - Charlotte Aitchsion, Recorded by

© 2020 (P) and © Warner Records UK Limited. An Asylum Records UK release. ℗ 2020 tbc

8
c2.0
00:03:40

Theron Thomas, Composer - Tommy Cash, Composer - Stuart Hawkes, Masterer - Charli Xcx, MainArtist - Charlotte Aitchison, Composer, Engineer, Vocals, Background Vocals, Recorded by - Kim Petras, Additional Vocals - Geoff Swan, Mixer - BJ Burton, Engineer - A.G. Cook, Producer, Drum Programmer, Synthesizer, Vocal Production - Alexander Guy Cook, Composer - Niko Battistini, Assistant Mixer - Dylan Brady, Composer, Drum Programmer, Synthesizer, Sound Effects (SFX) - Umru, Drum Programmer, Bass, Vibes, Vocal Production, Sound Design Designer - Jaan Umru Rothenberg, Composer

© 2020 (P) and © Warner Records UK Limited. An Asylum Records UK release. ℗ 2020 (P) and © Warner Records UK Limited. An Asylum Records UK release.

9
party 4 u
00:04:56

Stuart Hawkes, Masterer - Charli Xcx, MainArtist - Charlotte Aitchison, Composer, Engineer, Vocals, Background Vocals - Geoff Swan, Mixer - A.G. Cook, Producer, Engineer, Background Vocals, Drum Programmer, Synthesizer, Vocal Production - Alexander Guy Cook, Composer - Niko Battistini, Assistant Mix Engineer

© 2020 (P) and © Warner Records UK Limited. An Asylum Records UK release. ℗ 2020 (P) and © Warner Records UK Limited. An Asylum Records UK release.

10
anthems
00:02:51

Stuart Hawkes, Masterer - Charli Xcx, MainArtist - Charlotte Aitchison, Composer, Engineer, Vocals, Backing Vocals, Recorded by - Geoff Swan, Mixer - BJ Burton, Additional Production, Drum Programmer, Synthesizer - Danny L Harle, Composer, Producer - Niko Battistini, Assistant Mix Engineer - Dylan Brady, Composer, Producer

© 2020 (P) and © Warner Records UK Limited. An Asylum Records UK release. ℗ 2020 (P) and © Warner Records UK Limited. An Asylum Records UK release.

11
visions
00:03:49

Stuart Hawkes, Masterer - Charli Xcx, MainArtist - Charlotte Aitchison, Composer, Engineer, Vocals, Background Vocals, Recorded by - Geoff Swan, Mixer - BJ Burton, Composer, Producer, Engineer, Drum Programmer, Synthesizer, Vocal Production - A.G. Cook, Producer, Drum Programmer, Synthesizer, Vocal Production - Alexander Guy Cook, Composer - Niko Battistini, Assistant Mix Engineer

© 2020 (P) and © Warner Records UK Limited. An Asylum Records UK release. ℗ 2020 (P) and © Warner Records UK Limited. An Asylum Records UK release.

Album Description

If any pop star is uniquely equipped to be creative during hard times, it's Charli XCX. As her steady stream of singles, EPs, mixtapes, albums, and collaborations attest, being productive is her natural state of being. She's also remarkably connected to her fans and other artists through her social media platforms, and used this very 2020s version of fame to invite fans into her creative process. In the early days of sheltering in place during the COVID-19 pandemic, she vowed to create a brand-new album in just six weeks, using the tools she had at hand as well as the input of her fans and trusted producers like A. G. Cook and BJ Burton. In many ways, the humbly titled how i'm feeling now, with its lowercase spelling and lack of punctuation, captures the frozen-in-time yet fleeting feel of quarantine life as it returns to the fundamentals of her music. This isn't an album of acoustic guitar ruminations -- if anything, it shows XCX is just as committed to making cutting-edge electronic pop music while holed up in her L.A. home as she was when she could work face-to-face with her creative team. Featuring production by 100 gecs' Dylan Brady, "claws" pits an innocent singsong melody against booming bass and clanking trap rhythms that sound like they might have been made by wind-up toys. She pushes the envelope even farther with the streaking, overtly futuristic "pink diamond" and "c2.0," a track whose rubbery tones and helium-laced vocals call to mind the work of her frequent collaborator SOPHIE. Aside from "party 4 u," which feels like a miniature of Charli's more introspective moments, how i'm feeling now's songwriting has a smaller scope than it did on her last album, but XCX makes up for that by packing in as many hooks and feelings as she can. Equally sweet and challenging, mischievous and heartfelt, "forever" is pure Charli XCX. When she sings about staying emotionally close "even when we're not together," she touches on connections that were even more treasured at the time of the album's release, when many people were forced to be alone and jobs, relationships, and lives were in flux. And though the album's songs aren't literally about living in quarantine, they're certainly relatable. On the pensive Palmistry, Cook, and Mechatok-produced "i finally understand," XCX digs into the feelings, good and bad, that being truly intimate with someone -- and having time to reflect on a relationship -- engenders. It's a mood she expands on blissfully with "7 years" and with more ambivalence on "enemy," one of the album's prettiest and most fleshed-out songs. While it may not be the proper sequel to the ambitious Charli, how i'm feeling now's rawness and immediacy give it an appeal all its own. More than just an interesting social media experiment or a way to fend off quarantine boredom, it's an artistic challenge that's true to the very best parts of XCX's music.
© Heather Phares /TiVo

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