Image: Chuff Media

FLETCHER expresses pure honesty throughout ‘In Search Of The Antidote’

Cari Fletcher, also known as FLETCHER, rose to stardom after the release of her breakthrough 2019 single ‘Undrunk’ from her EP you ruined new york city for me, and her viral TikTok track ‘Becky’s So Hot’ from her debut album, Girl Of My Dreams in 2022. Since then, Fletcher has been named a queer icon within the music industry for her tongue-in-cheek lyricism which successfully encapsulates the queer experience. She often reflects on her romantic experiences through many perspectives: reminiscing the love from her old flames, her jealousy towards her ex-partner’s new relationship, the flirtatious queer dating scene, and her healing journey and overall progression as an individual with a queer identity. Two years after the release of her debut album, fans have been waiting on tenterhooks for the arrival of Fletcher’s highly anticipated sophomore album, In Search Of The Antidote.

With the release of the first three singles ‘Eras Of Us’, ‘Lead Me On’, and ‘Doing Better’, I was slightly hesitant towards the direction of the album and Fletcher’s overall vision to create a cohesive work, as each new single sounded sonically and lyrically different from the last. This is particularly evident when comparing ‘Lead Me On’ and ‘Eras Of Us’. Although both tracks portray Fletcher’s profound maturity embodied throughout In Search Of The Antidote, ‘Lead Me On’ delivers a steady and contemplative aura which Fletcher utilises to persuade listeners of her acceptance towards lost love whereas, ‘Eras Of Us’ explores the romanticisation of love and the necessity to preserve it through the fond nostalgia created from reminiscing on the untarnished elements of a past relationship.

However, from listening to the album from start to finish in one sitting and with no distractions, it’s safe to say Fletcher continues to entertain her audience with the same contemplative and confident lyricism attached to a concoction of energetic pop beats and tender acoustics – prominent characteristics throughout her discography.

Fletcher’s vision for her album comes to life through her honest exploration of love and relationships

The album’s first track ‘Maybe I Am’ starts slow with Fletcher singing over a mellow-sounding guitar. This made me question her choice for an opening track, as I expected an energetic opener which would immediately captivate and prepare me for the lyrical and melodic journey to come. As I was having these doubts, Fletcher’s vocals fade for a brief moment to welcome the musical accompaniment of drums and a more vibrant guitar melody during the chorus. Reminiscent of the early 2000s and Avril Lavigne’s ‘Complicated’, Fletcher utilises this melody to confront the (potential) words of an ex-partner who comments on her character and her nature of self-sabotage: “You say that I’m a narcissist / as if I haven’t heard that one / you say I’m ruining my life on purpose just because I can / well maybe I am”.  With the incorporation of these themes, Fletcher’s vision for her album comes to life through her honest exploration of love and relationships and their interconnection of deeply impacting her identity and the relationship she has with herself.

‘Doing Better’ resumes the momentum created by ‘Maybe I Am’ to successfully depict Fletcher’s retrospection of a previous relationship to acknowledge her personal growth and the difficulty attached to her ability to “heal”. Fletcher reflects on the reality of attempting to prove to herself and her ex-partner that she is “unrecognisable” due to her efforts at “doing better”. Fletcher’s efforts meant she “saw a psychic / went on a pussy diet” and later performed “on a stage with Miley” (referencing her performance of ‘Midnight Sky’ with Miley Cyrus at Miley’s New Year’s Eve Party in 2022). ‘Doing Better’ deserves a notable mention as it compellingly displays the same wit and confident lyricism which have always been quintessential to Fletcher’s identity as an artist. With the lyrics “your girlfriend never thanked me for making her go viral / fuck it, I’m her idol,” Fletcher depicts a somewhat never-faltering curiosity with an ex, despite them not being in her life, the same curiosity seen within ‘Becky’s So Hot’ from Girl Of My Dreams. Fletcher is adamant in proving herself and her ability to change and heal others. With this in mind, ‘Doing Better’ also portrays a deeper and darker reality surrounding the aftermath of constantly trying to prove yourself to others. This reality entails Fletcher being disheartened by the idea that her efforts appear positive to external influences but can persist in causing her internal discomfort and mental uncertainty, which makes her question: “Why does better feel worse?”. Fletcher presents a relatable dilemma of being perceived within a specific manner but internally experiencing something different, often creating a façade not to be perceived as fragile. This is seen within the lyrics “smiling on the outside / crying on the inside / you would never know because I’m posing with my good side”. ‘Doing Better’ effectively portrays the dichotomy of doing better versus actually being better which can successfully scratch the brain of any active listener.

Fletcher’s truthfulness and relatability continues to linger during ‘Crush’

With the tracks ‘Attached To You’, ‘Pretending’, and ‘Joyride’, I feared there was little distinction between the instrumentation and deeper themes of the tracks within the middle proportion of the album. I was concerned each track would not be recognisable in its own right. However, once again, Fletcher proved me wrong as each of these tracks portrays a valuable insight into Fletcher’s reflection on love as she moves away from the responsibility of external influences towards an element of self-realisation surrounding her own behaviours of self-sabotage, protectionism, and jealousy throughout her experiences of love. Fletcher’s introspective journey towards finding solace in love has allowed her to recognise the accuracy of her own involvement within relationships and how this has helped and or hindered her ability to heal and further ‘find’ herself. This becomes a relatable experience for many listeners due to the common experience of fixating on past relationships and often reflecting on our individual role within the experience with rose-tinted glasses.

Fletcher’s truthfulness and relatability continues to linger during ‘Crush’. This track is potentially one of my favourites from the album as it sees Fletcher take on an emotional ballad to present a candid interpretation surrounding the brutality of love. Fletcher cleverly juxtaposes the tenderness of ‘Crush’ and its instrumentation with its darker, masochistic themes, and lyricism. There is an obsession with the physicality of love and its all-consuming nature that leads many to “crave it” and “need it”. Fletcher questions the actions of her partner with: “Won’t you crush me / under the weight of your body/ you know I put you above me”. This ideal relates to the consistent themes throughout the album that Fletcher’s perception of self and her worthiness of love is held primarily within the responsibility of her partners. This is further illustrated through the lyrics “I want to cry when you fuck me / I want your kisses to cut me / come on I dare you to love me”. Fletcher depicts pain as being synonymous with the process of finding and being in love. ‘Crush’ displays a harsh reality for Fletcher as she continues to question her placement within love, with or without the role of her partners, to determine her worthiness of experiencing love without the physical and emotional pain she often associates with it.

In Search Of The Antidote is one of Fletcher’s most honest and consistent works to date

As ‘Crush’ plays a key role in Fletcher establishing control and ownership of her role in relationships, this acknowledgement and direct honesty provides listeners with a journal-like insight into the inner workings of Fletcher’s thoughts surrounding her experiences of love, loss, and relationships. This is significant as honest interpretations surrounding the pain of love are rarely seen or truthfully acknowledged within pop and ‘queer’ music. It is, therefore, refreshing to witness Fletcher’s transparency revolving around her own experiences.

As the album concludes with ‘Antidote’, where Fletcher flaunts tender vocals and dreamy instrumentation to present a hopeful concluding remark that love is the antidote, it is evident In Search Of The Antidote is one of Fletcher’s most honest and consistent works to date. The album utilises Fletcher’s genius lyricism within both energetic and soft melodies to delve into Fletcher’s reality as a queer individual who often must manoeuvre her experiences of love and relationships within the public eye. Fletcher’s growing maturity, high-quality lyricism, and brutal honesty make In Search Of The Antidote stand out to its listeners. As love becomes the antidote for Fletcher as she heals and learns to build a healthy and tender relationship with herself and those around her, it is clear Fletcher urges her listeners to do the same to discover their own ‘antidote’.


Recommended Listening: ‘Doing Better’, ‘Crush’, ‘Antidote’


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.