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Camila Cabello - C,XOXO (Album Review)

Monday, 01 July 2024 Written by Katie Macbeth

Photo: Dimitrious Giannoudis

Camila Cabello’s musical journey has had a consistent theme of self-discovery. Released in 2022, 'Familia' was an embrace of her Cuban roots, where her 2019 album 'Romance' reflected the process of moving on from past relationships. Now, ‘C,XOXO’ ventures into new musical territory, offering 11 tracks that blend R&B and hip hop influences with occasional hints of hyperpop, presenting a willingness to explore new sounds and experiment. 

I Luv It opens things but, despite being the lead single, the Playboi Carti collaboration feels like a deliberate act of misdirection for the album as a whole. Featuring a celebratory tone with Cabello’s sharp, rapid-fire lyrics juxtaposed against Carti’s muted lower register, its hyperpop palette is infectious and dynamic, initially feeling chaotic but growing in stature as its chorus whirs around the head. 

Elsewhere, things are alternatively more reflective and brash. Chanel No.5 follows on its heels, maintaining the high-energy pop ambience while also unveiling a more sophisticated performance style.

The track explores self-assuredness and determination, portrayed by Cabello as an immersive “sensory experience” heightened by its pulsating beats and well-crafted AutoTune.

Twentysomething is an interesting change of pace, standing out like an island of honesty in a record otherwise characterised by confidence and bravado. An acoustic ballad, it delves into Cabello’s self-doubt and insecurities as she admits she doesn't know “what the fuck she’s doing”.

While collaboration plays a big role on ‘C,XOXO’ that’s not always a good thing. City Girls enliven Dade County Dreaming, a bold track that pays homage to Miami by conjuring imagery of the city at its most vibrant. It has undeniable energy and allure, unlike a couple of tracks featuring Drake. Hot Uptown is an uneven offering that almost sidelines Cabello, while Uuugly relegates her to the background for two minutes while showcasing Drake’s retro flow. It’s an odd choice.

‘C,XOXO’ might allow Cabello to step outside her comfort zone from time to time but it’s uneven and occasionally reliant on familiar ground. But while it may not reinvent the wheel, it is something that’ll spark a conversation about where its creator goes next, and that’s something in itself.


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