Search The Line of Best Fit
Search The Line of Best Fit

Baby Queen emerges from the trenches of her early twenties on Quarter Life Crisis

"Quarter Life Crisis"

Release date: 10 November 2023
Baby Queen Quarter Life Crisis cover
07 November 2023, 09:00 Written by Caitlin Chatterton

“I was crying at a party / which is not unusual”, Baby Queen admits on “We Can Be Anything”, her debut record’s opening track.

The South African-born singer – real name Bella Latham – has curated a signature sound that sees breezy indie pop writhing in satirical nihilism; on her long-awaited full-length, it’s clear nothing has changed. It’s a reputation somewhat at odds with Heartstopper, a determinedly rose-tinted and (if you’re over the age of 21, at least) occasionally farcical representation of being LGBTQ+ in secondary school. Still, four of Baby Queen’s songs made it to the soundtrack of season two: “We Can Be Anything” opens the penultimate episode, and Baby Queen herself has a cameo performance as the finale’s prom singer.

In a now-viral soundbite from a Coup de Main interview back in March, Suki Waterhouse described being a young woman in your twenties as “the trenches”; the same energy powers most of Baby Queen’s album. The existential questioning behind “We Can Be Anything” is joined by musings on mental health, love, and Baby Queen’s long-established disdain for social media as the record’s central themes – all within familiar territory. She takes aim at the fickle fame lottery of the internet on “kid genius” and “Obvious”, the latter equally horrified by the relentless passage of time. On “Die Alone”, a stripped-down version of her usual sound, she makes an admittedly very relatable mental leap: “the thought of flirting makes me sick / so maybe I’ll die alone”. Relatability has always been one of her greatest selling points, trading ostentatious vagueness for on-the-pulse observations from her life. (“When I’m tying my laces / I still make two bunny ears” is a call-out that feels just a tad too close to home, though.)

When she isn’t caught up in sarcastic commentary, Baby Queen does allow herself to be vulnerable. “23”, set in the early morning haze of a night out, is frantically paced with adrenaline as she toils with the conflicting emotions around fancying a female friend. She was too busy being bitter for such introspection on infectious pop tune “Dream Girl”, however, which places her in a love triangle with the dream girl and the boyfriend. When “Dream Girl” came out as the album’s first single, Baby Queen admitted being terrified at the start of her career that people might discover her bisexuality. By the end of Quarter Life Crisis, though, her fears seem resolved: “a letter to myself at 17” is an acoustic soliloquy that sees Baby Queen accept her queerness, find peace in love and heartbreak, celebrate friendship and art, and realise that her wildest dreams are coming true. The record sits firmly within her existing catalogue, but that growing self-assurance brings a new charm to the Baby Kingdom.

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