Every week we tell you about an album we think you need to spend time with. This week’s album is Baby Queen’s debut mixtape, The Yearbook.
Bella Latham debuted as Baby Queen with her single “Internet Religion” only a little over a year ago in May 2020. It was a bold and telling song, examining internet culture and the façades we put on as we create and mask our identities online. The single was enough to mark Baby Queen as an artist to keep tabs on, especially as the contrast of her bleak lyrics and cheery guitar backdrops accentuated the pivotal topic in a fascinating way.
Baby Queen’s The Yearbook mixtape seems to follow her discography of songs that function as a platform for the London-based artist to not only supply the world with a candied catalog of songs, but to also approach topics in some of the most accessible ways. In an interview with NME, Baby Queen shared, “I think it’s really important right now for pop music to be saying something. Pop music is the music that has the greatest reach. So you’re reaching all these people and young kids that are struggling with real-world issues. You’ve got this megaphone to be able to communicate with people.”
The Yearbook begins with a spoken word song, introducing the album and ending with the stark thrice-spoken phrase, “I wore black just so that everybody would know / That I’m still grieving the person I used to be.” It sets up the tone for the duration of the album, as listeners journey through it and glance at the different personalities literally visually represented on the album’s art. “It’s an American coming-of-age film,” she shared about the album. “It feels confusing, happy, free, lonely… all of these things you go through when you are growing up.” Going through each track shows intimate revelations surrounding the challenge of growing up not just as a teen, but even well into adulthood.
Even heartbreak, dripping sarcasm and the ugly process of falling apart can sound palatable when it’s masked by Latham’s dynamic range and glistening instrumentals like flickering synths. The juxtaposition that the artist utilizes between lyrics and sound is bold and it succeeds in capturing listeners’ attention to what she has to say. It seems to be a hallmark of her style, and, by now, Baby Queen appears to have deftly honed in on the unique spin, switching between spoken word phrases and belting choruses to underscore widely applicable experiences. Baby Queen’s album is like wandering through a patch of flowers amid showers of rain — it’s a refreshing experience supported by her social commentary.
Baby Queen’s mixtape The Yearbook is a half-spoken word dream-pop anthem that, put simply, explores the process of growing up — even as an adult.