Sound: Demonic hyper-pop with ’80s influences that would sound great in a gay club If you like: Charli XCX, pinkpantheress, Grimes Best track:Crumbs Why You Should Listen: On Let Her Burn, Rebecca Black is fighting for her spot as a pop girlie. This is a fun, sultry pop album for a new generation. Rating: NNN (out of 5)
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REBECCA BLACK WAS THE most hated 13-year-old in the whole world in 2011. Friday, the cheesy auto-tuned pop song she made at home turned into one of the most mocked and parodied tracks on the internet.
Over the past few years, Black has tried to steer away from her infamous past — she collaborated with Katy Perry; remixed the infamous Friday with hyperpop pioneers 100gecs and Dorian Electra, turning it into a futuristic cyberbop; and came out as queer during the pandemic. With this in mind, it seems natural for Black’s new album to be about reinvention, one in which she sets her old self in flames and tries to come into her own.
The result is a fun, ethereal and slightly demonic collection of pop songs that will transport you to a sweaty rave, one where you aren’t supposed to feel ashamed of who you are. Black’s influences, SOPHIE, Madonna and Grimes, are clear. Songs like Sick to My Stomach’s smooth harmonies and synths feel ripped straight out of the ’80s, while sugary sweet songs like Doe-Eyed nod to her cyber-futuristic collaborators.
Misery Loves Company and What Am I Gonna Do with You are some of the album’s standouts, thumping and euphoric, you can almost hear the fast cars racing in the background. Crumbs is another excellent pop song, Black’s breathy tone pairs perfectly with eerie and techno-infused instrumentals. It embodies all the feelings great pop bangers should. It’s fun, sultry and sexy.
In the album’s dips, the production is what saves Black’s sometimes bland vocals. It’s the case in songs like Cry Hard Enough and Look at You, whose lyrics about losing a lover feel a little uninspired. Thankfully, the shimmering instrumentals and fast-paced drums are there to bring you back to the dance party you’d pressed play on the album for.
What keeps this album captivating and sets it apart from the swarm of pop newcomers are Black’s brief displays of vulnerability. Especially when she’s reckoning with her identity as a musician, especially one who’s been in the spotlight since she was a tween. Songs like Destroy Me and Performer feel almost meta in Black’s admissions that she’s trying her best to keep you entertained. Destroy Me, a fast-paced drum-and-bass-inspired anthem, reckons with how easy it’s been for Black to change herself over and over for validation. You’re almost left with a feeling of unease when the album ends with Performer, Black’s resignation that “her performance isn’t working.”
Ultimately, Let Her Burn is an album about finding yourself, and while she might still have a few doubts, it’s what makes this album compelling proof that Black is a contender for a new generation of pop stars— ones that just want to be themselves, no matter how hard that seems to be.