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Chlöe's In Pieces is a musically decent but uninspired debut

"In Pieces"

Release date: 31 March 2023
Chloe in pieces album cover 800
31 March 2023, 15:30 Written by Matthew Kim

Chlöe Bailey has been busy – appearing in sitcoms, receiving a cosign from Beyoncé, and dropping a lot of music.

Since releasing Ungodly Hour with her sister Halle – the slick R&B album that carried countless people through quarantine mania – she isn’t any less occupied, but, for the first time, Chlöe and her sister have gone their separate ways.

And, while Hallie has garnered a lot of the news for her role as Princess Ariel in a live-action remake of Disney’s iconic The Little Mermaid, Chlöe has had just as much to keep her occupied. From starring in multiple movies to making tabloid headlines for a sex scene in Donald Glover’s Swarm, she’s had a chaotic solo career. However, what should be her early-career apex – In Pieces, her first solo album – doesn’t manage to fully reflect her creative voice.

The best way I can describe In Pieces is that, from its slick modern-yet-revivalist beats to its lyrics grasping at the fringes of introspection, it feels like Chlöe chasing the trends set by her contemporaries. It’s thoroughly predictable – an 'honest' introspective piece here, an Afrobeat song there, an adult contemporary closer, a few high-energy pop-rap cuts interspersed throughout to break the monotony. While In Pieces is largely pleasant, you can’t help but feel like you've heard this all before.

Many of the strongest tracks on the album cut through its ambience with grabbing hooks and instrumentals. “Body Do” is a driving, dissonant Miami Bass tune that showcases Chlöe’s ability to create modern yet slightly nostalgic 90s throwbacks, and the subtle soul-infused “Feel Me Cry” is synthpop perfection. On these tracks and throughout the album, Chlöe showcases her ear for musicality – the vocal arrangements throughout In Pieces are stellar, and the production (handled by some of music’s biggest names, from Metro Boomin to The Dream) always sounds good. However, moments of true insight are few and far between; mostly, the album drags along at half energy. “Pray It Away” feels like a direct import from mid-2010s R&B radio. The spacey trap beat under “Worried” sounds reused, as does the toxic-but-passionate relationship cliché underpinning “Looze U”.

The album’s features fail to add anything of substance to the album either. On “How Does It Feel,” Chris Brown (seriously, why are we still letting Chris Brown collaborate with our biggest pop artists in 2023?) phones in a snoozer of a verse, morally and sonically ruining an otherwise-decent track. Missy Elliot’s verse trails off by the second half, killing the energy of what should be the album’s most dynamic tune (although the Aaron Cartier sample works surprisingly well), and Future’s unique style feels tragically misused on the acoustic song “Cheatback”.

As a whole, In Pieces fails to reach the creative heights it seemed to promise; never does it stand up as a genuine artistic statement from someone who should be one of pop music’s best rising stars. I’m still as excited as anyone to see what Chlöe does next, but I hope it strives to be more interesting than this.

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