Baby Queen’s Quarter Life Crisis falls short of being the generation-defining album it sets out to be
Your twenties can be a tumultuous time, a balancing act between the remnants of childhood and the looming responsibilities of adulthood. It’s that peculiar phase where you feel like you don’t quite belong at the adult’s table, but you’re certainly past the age of sitting at the kid’s table. When an artist offers a brutally honest portrayal of this perplexing period and fittingly names it Quarter Life Crisis, it’s an opportunity to resonate with an entire generation.
However, Arabella Latham, the 26-year-old artist known professionally as Baby Queen, falls short of crafting the definitive soundtrack for this era of life. Some songs capture this feeling almost uncannily well. The opening two tracks of the album, ‘We Can Be Anything’ and ‘Kid Genius,’ act as two sides of the same coin — while one captures the limitless hope of the boundless possibilities of your twenties, the other is a snarky spoken word critique on the Internet and how it can give anyone their “fifteen minutes of fame”, may come across as dismissive, but it’s catchy riffs and addictive chorus makes it one of the standouts on the album.
Yet, amid the moments of self-pity, there are glimpses of brilliance on the album
However, for the majority of the album, instead of the relatable self-deprecation she attempts to share with the audience, she succeeds in evoking pity or annoyance from the listener. Her melancholic rendition of lines like “I don’t eat greens and never keep my bedroom clean” on the track ‘Grow Up’ may leave listeners questioning whether it’s a genuine reflection of their own experiences or merely a plea for sympathy. It’s easy to lose the connection between the artist and the listener when the emotional weight feels forced.
Yet, amid the moments of self-pity, there are glimpses of brilliance on the album. ‘We Can Be Anything,’ a dreamy electro-pop gem, encapsulates the boundless opportunities that your twenties offer. Its catchy melody and high-pitched vocals are an invitation to explore the myriad paths that await. Similarly, the title track, ‘Quarter Life Crisis,’ provides an intriguing juxtaposition between the tribulations of this life phase and a more upbeat musical arrangement. The vibrant guitars and resounding drums make it a song worth celebrating, a resounding anthem for navigating the precarious terrain of your twenties.
Quarter Life Crisis remains a work in progress, capturing the nuances of a complex life phase but needing further refinement
Some of Baby Queen’s most exceptional tracks on this album are the ones that uplift. ‘Dream Girl’ is a dreamy, sparkling, track set to an exciting arrangement of synths and guitars. Its toe-tapping beat is irresistible and its chorus demands to be shouted from the rooftops.
However, Quarter Life Crisis lacks the exuberance and wow factor of her debut mixtape, The Yearbook. While the album has undeniably strong moments, none of the songs quite reach the heights of ‘Want Me’ or ‘Dover Beach’. The euphoric, youthful ecstasy found in those earlier tracks is replaced by a more straightforward and honest approach that doesn’t entirely align with Baby Queen’s charismatic, energetic persona as an artist and performer. Instead, some of the songs feel somewhat uninspiring, blending into one another. ‘Every Time I Get High,’ for example, is a guitar-based, upbeat tune that, despite its three-and-a-half-minute run time, feels like it goes on for much longer. Similarly, ‘I Can’t Get My Shit Together,’ with its synth-heavy beat reminiscent of a Mario Kart soundtrack, successfully captures the Y2K nostalgia it aims for. However, it sounds perhaps slightly too much like the intro to a 2000s children’s TV show for it to be enjoyable.
Nostalgia aside, ‘Quarter Life Crisis’ offers a raw, personal side of Baby Queen that contrasts with her earlier work. ‘Obvious,’ perhaps her first piano-based ballad, delivers a heart-wrenching account of what one leaves behind when chasing their dreams. It’s painful and is strikingly relatable. At times listening to the album feels like Latham is holding a mirror to your face and compelling you to confront your emotions through her music.
Despite its undeniably strong moments, Baby Queen’s Quarter Life Crisis falls short of becoming the quintessential album for those grappling with the challenges and uncertainties of their twenties. While some tracks lean too much into self-pity, others shine with their optimistic outlook and catchy melodies. The album hints at an artist with immense potential — potential that Baby Queen has proven time and time again — yet Quarter Life Crisis remains a work in progress, capturing the nuances of a complex life phase but needing further refinement to truly deliver the defining soundtrack for a generation.
Recommended Listening: ‘We Can Be Anything’