‘Quarter Life Crisis’ – Baby Queen’s Take on the Twenties By Nour Morsy

I first came across Baby Queen on one of my many nights of listening to random music on shuffle, which I’ve been told is weird, but hey, we all need a hobby. At the time I really enjoyed the song and added it to my likes without a second thought. As it sat in my playlist for weeks I forgot about it until it played again, and it was so good I had to check what it was called and who it was by – of course the song was ‘Dover Beach’. From there on out I started going through Baby Queen’s discography, checking in on what her music sounds like and what other song I can claim as my favourite of the week. More recently, I had been listening to the pre-released singles ‘We Can Be Anything’ and ‘All The Things’ during the summer of this year and it’s safe to say I was incredibly excited to get to hear the full album ‘Quarter Life Crisis’ before its official release on November 10th.

This November, Arabella Latham, popularly known as Baby Queen, releases her debut studio album ‘Quarter Life Crisis’, featuring songs that embody the feelings of your twenties where loss merges with passion to make a cocktail of what one can understatedly call a crisis. Now this is something many of us can relate to, I know I can. Having made music on the challenges of growing up with social media and becoming disillusioned with the internet, Latham is now back with an album that touches on those pains, but also paints the world as a magical one.

This album holds the essence of the anti-pop genre that Baby Queen has so quickly emerged within. Characterised by pop beats and indie style instrumentals, ‘Quarter Life Crisis’ is for those who romanticise the everyday things. Spontaneous conversations with strangers, a moment at a party or a quick glance at their crush. With that romance comes longing; for love, for stable adulthood or a childhood one left all too soon. Latham’s music feels personal yet relatable; there’s something magical about listening to music inspired by someone’s life experiences and feeling it tug at your heart strings. This album does just that. Many of the songs on it feel like a story or a conversation you’d have with a friend at 3am. The album suitably carries the sense of fantasy experienced through Latham’s music and it is nothing short of mystical.

This album also portrays the agitation that comes with experiencing one’s twenties with the times of the internet and capitalism. Hints of rock as well as electronic beats make you feel as though songs like ‘kid genius’ and ‘i can’t get my shit together’ are demanding you to listen attentively. Latham has always been unapologetically straight-forward when it comes to standards of beauty, love and behaviour. While this album carries the justified anger our generation feels towards the systems of the world, it also holds hope, and that is what makes it so special. It’s quite easy to be pessimistic about your life, in fact, nothing is easier than giving in. But Latham makes a point with the variety of songs within this album that while one might be depressed and missing a better life they never had, they can also learn to accept these flaws and be happier. The only catch is they have to work through them; she allows herself to be angry and sad, petty and childish, and eventually promises herself she’ll be okay with the last song on the album ‘a letter to myself at 17’.

This album also portrays the agitation that comes with experiencing one’s twenties with the times of the internet and capitalism.

I’ve got to hand it to the production and creative direction of this album, it’s so cool. Not only does every song’s instrumentals and mixing perfectly match its lyrics and feel, but the order of the songs on the album and the way they’re named captures the overall themes I mentioned. The album starts with ‘We Can Be Anything’, a song that makes one feel a divine connection to the collective, it feels like a warm hug from Latham, one that she received and is now passing onto her listeners. Then it goes on to songs like ‘kid genius’ with a similar message to her 2021 song ‘Narcissist’, about the manufactured authenticity that comes with being on the internet. It makes sense to put these songs at the start of the album; they remind fans of the type of music they know and love. Then it goes on to songs with newer production, newer expectations, concepts of irritation and then not being able to let go of childhood yet somehow feeling disconnected from it. Finally, after an emotionally charged listening journey, Latham ends the album with a loving letter to herself. This form of covert storytelling really brings the album together, and is the reason why I think your first listen of every new album should be in order of tracks.

This form of covert storytelling really brings the album together, and is the reason why I think your first listen of every new album should be in order of tracks.

Another cool thing is that some tracks are titled in uppercase letters and others in lowercase. While this is a creative choice many artists are employing these days, I think it’s especially interesting on this album. Where Latham says “you’re so uncool if you don’t disable uppercase” in ‘kid genius’, a song criticising standards of coolness on the internet, is in itself titled in lowercase. The album holds a mix of titles in uppercase and others in lowercase, but what I’m getting at here is that this mix goes hand in hand with the ideas discussed in the album. The conflicting feelings of wanting to be cool and wanted, yet wishing you didn’t care what others think, and the somewhat contradicting songs that discuss both wanting to grow up and be a real adult while also missing being a kid.

To me, Baby Queen’s music is equally nostalgic and refreshing, she does a very impressive job at making her listener be a critic yet world-loving. I don’t know, maybe I’m reading too much into it, either way I enjoyed every element of this album. From the themes, to the production, to the actual look of the album on my screen, it all ties in together beautifully, and adds another album to my big pile of ‘this is how I feel at 2am on a wednesday’ music.