On April 6, Charli XCX announced her intention to try an experiment. Over the course of the next five weeks, she'd create a brand-new album — including meeting the demands of music videos and promotion — all entirely from scratch while self-isolating. The end result of that period of creativity is finally here: As promised, it's called How I'm Feeling Now, and it's simply a vision.
The album comes loaded with the singles "Claws," "Forever," and "I Finally Understand," all trademark future-pop looks at her life in quarantine that also saw her embracing more stream-of-consciousness lyrics she shared with fans in real time as she was making them. The other eight songs here range from insanely catchy ("7 Years") and sugary ("Detonate") to Aphex Twin-reminiscent ("C2.0") and intimate and sprawling ("Party 4 U"). It all comes together thanks to production help from of trusted collaborators A.G. Cook and BJ Burton.
What we learned in the lead-up to the release — which also saw Charli shoot DIY and sometimes green screen-assisted visuals for "Forever" and "Claws" — was, simply, how Charli works. In a "quarantine diary" note shared ahead of the album announcement, she mentioned how she's used to working quickly and how she still felt "eager to create and collaborate" despite the pandemic.
Last year, Charli released an eponymous album loaded with guest collaborations from Lizzo, Haim, Troye Sivan, and more. She completed the foundation of that one in about a month, too, so the genesis of How I'm Feeling Now, while still a challenge, found Charli right in her ideal creative zone.
"I like to bring in as many artists all over the world from different places and cultures because I feel like that is what really drives me to learn from them and to make sure that they have a voice in my record," she told MTV News at the time. On the new album, that translates to guest production work from 100 gecs's Dylan Brady, Dijon Duenas, Palmistry, and more.
Sonically, it's glitchy and pitch-shifted and swirling in and out of tiny embellishments that rattle an otherwise glossy pop foundation. It's an addictive listen, and at 37 minutes long, How I'm Feeling Now is a great way to dive right into, well, how music sounds now — and how it might sound in the near future.
Get started by streaming the album in full above. Charli's also documented the entire process on her social channels, including in-depth week-by-week summaries on YouTube. Watch those afterwards to see a master at work.