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Camila Cabello Is a ‘Weirdo’ Now, Sort Of on ‘C, XOXO’

On her fourth album, the singer runs with her own ideas more fully than ever

Camila Cabello

Phillip Faraone/VF24/Getty Images/Vanity Fair

Camila Cabello called herself “a weirdo” when she announced her fourth solo album, and “I Luv It,” its Playboy Carti-assisted, Gucci Mane-sampling fever-dream lead single, certainly fits the bill. Zip-tie synths accompany Cabello’s breathless delivery of semi-surrealistic lines like “I go soprano/ Baby go down low/ And when he leads/ I gotta follow,” while the spat-out chorus seemed designed for maximum cortex-adherence.

The aggro, manic “I Luv It” had people wondering if the former X Factor contestant was entering her hyperpop era. While C, XOXO, which Cabello worked on with El Guincho (Rosalía) and Jasper Harris (Doja Cat), has its explode-the-world moments, the album overall feels like a gradual comedown off the opening track’s Florida-borne high as Cabello is forced by circumstance to figure things out—to the point where the shimmery “Twentysomethings,” which veers between balladry and braggadocio, pivots on her admitting, “don’t know what the fuck I’m doing.”

Along the way, she indulges in pure pleasure (the loopy, giggly “Chanel No 5,” the Lil Nas X backseat romp “He Knows”); she celebrates her successes (the braggy City Girls collab “Dade County Dreaming”) and her friends (the joyously groovy “Dream-Girls”); she gets in her feelings about exes (“June Gloom,” which manages to balance syrupy funk and sulky brooding). Drake is also present on two stormy tracks about a doomed couple; he even threatens to “pull out the credit card statements” in his defense, which is an exceedingly Drake-like way of handling conflict that also proves Cabello’s protestations, on the giddily argumentative “Hot Uptown,” that he isn’t worthy of her time.

C, XOXO doesn’t quite establish Cabello as a “weirdo,” but its neon-hued chaos does indicate that she’s been allowed to run with her ideas more fully (she wrote all its lyrics and toplines, a career first that lets her stretch and warp her voice). It’s a feisty, hungry album that feels fearless even as it grapples with the unknown—the late-20s paradox turned into candy-coated pop.

From Rolling Stone US