Surprising, fun and vocally impressive, Camila Cabello's second solo album is distinctive and impactful; an album perfect on repeat before a big night out.
After the success of Camila Cabello’s self-titled first album, expectations were riding high for the release of her second. With the sheer success of the first single, ‘Senorita’, and the subsequent singles like ‘Liar’ and ‘Cry for Me’, hopes soared that this could be another great LP. Gladly, I report that it doesn’t fall short and continues to establish Cabello as a great solo artist, soaring higher than she could when shackled to Fifth Harmony.
Consistently, every song on the album has a lot to celebrate, most notably in the first half of the album when the majority of songs have a punchy beat and a celebrate Cabello’s Latin-American roots. ‘Shameless’ starts the album in a stripped-back manner and oozes a celebration of feminity and sexiness. It hooks you in with its reserved accompaniment and slowly builds, framing Cabello’s vocal capability at the centre stage while acting as an exposition for the upcoming songs that follow. When ‘Living Proof’ starts, it almost felt like an anticlimax but instead showcases a more stripped back blend of pop that readies the more acoustic parts of the album that are continually celebrated often in its Latin pop sounds. Then an amalgamation happens and in the addition of a punchy beat that the more recognisable “pop” sound is established and continues through songs like ”Should’ve Said It’, ‘My Oh My’ (feat. DaBaby), and ‘Liar’, maintaining a strong presence throughout much of the album. The songs are catchy and fun and, where not all of them sound distinctly different, Cabello’s effort in giving vocal variation and the general catchiness of the lyrics helps ingrain them to be continually playing the background of your memory. The songs want to be played on repeat, and it’s easier to succumb and enjoy them rather than have them continue unformed in your memory. They have a certain quality that will have you learning all of the lyrics and invariably using any object that vaguely resembles a microphone to sing into (hopefully not curling tongs though).
In the second half of the album, the music changes and Cabello begins to push towards a more subdued sense of pop as the beat lessens and the guitar backing takes centre stage. It lends the album its more serious and heartbreaking edge and demonstrates the strongest lyrics in the album. However, a couple of times, the lack of defined accompaniment leaves the songs feeling uninspired and uninteresting to listen to. Songs like ‘Dream of You’ may contain moving (if admittedly simplistic) lyrics, but it feels out of place in the surrounding music as the background becomes less musically varied and more of just some deep tones – words with ambience rather than music. It could work if the Cabello’s voice provided something more for the ear to listen to, but either autotune or the cacophony of high notes leaves the songs droning on in a petulant moan that often leads me to hit the “skip” button. However, it’s only a few songs in this section that don’t live up to expectations, with the majority of them making their more nuanced and intimate approach a welcome contrast to the energetic first half.
Of course, there are stand out songs littered throughout the album as well. Particularly the singles ‘Shameless’, ‘Liar’ and ‘Living Proof’ were great songs to release in the build-up to the album’s release. Although, there are discrete, hidden gems throughout the album: my personal favourite being ‘Bad Kind of Butterflies’ which demonstrates a distinct sound from the rest of the album and uses a lot of layering than lend an authenticity to the song. While ‘First Man’ provides a stripped back and emotional celebration of being loved by a father, it also explores the heartbreak of letting your daughter go- celebrating a different kind of romance that is an excellent conclusion to the album.
Camila Cabello’s new album is quite simply phenomenal. It’s energetic, fun and highly consistent across all the songs. The quality rarely falters, and when it does, it’s only in the minority of songs (one or two at most) that don’t suffer to ruin to the album in the slightest. It’s consistent, but it never takes risks to push music in new directions and fails to push boundaries even when within quite a freeing genre. However, it’s an album which I’ve genuinely come to love and has surprised me most of the time. I hadn’t thought I would love the album, but there’s was nothing more pleasing than having my expectations exceeded and blown out of the water.
Camila Cabello’s Romance is out now via Epic Records.