Sir Babygirl, Kelsie Hogue’s binary crushing, bubblegum pop power project, released its debut album Crush on Me on February 15th, and between its dynamic highs and lows, melodic and triumphant lyrics, Crush on Me is a coming-of-age tale driven by an identity crisis and set to a synthy sweet melody.
The album feels like an unearthed 1990s relic dusted off and soaked in 21st-century nihilistic bliss. It seems to follow a linear narrative path that makes listening to the tracks feel like a journey through insecurity and growth. The album has a personality of its own, informed by the epoch of a journey each track ascends. While the album is only nine songs in length, each track feels like a character arch. And rather than being a witness, the listener becomes subject to the pungent emotion that is packed into every one of Sir Babygirl’s words.
The album opens with “Heels”— setting the scene for what is about to be a roller coaster of self-discovery. Opening with a grounding percussion, the first track is a powerful pop anthem that feels like the anxiety-plagued rickety uphill trek of the car. Then, as the perfect send-off to the record, “Heels” devolves into a reality-manipulating battle cry — Sir Babygirl’s wailing of “I changed my hair” is as enticing as it is jarring.
The album follows this with the deceptively sweet and chaotic “Flirting with Her,” riddling the listener with metaphor after metaphor on the uncertainty of a first love. The song is a queer response to every heteronormative pop song about crushing on a man. With lyrics like “I don’t think I’ll ever get over her hips / Or ever feel like anything else exists / When she texts me — / Brring … hey!” followed by a panicked shout, the song is an almost verbatim iteration of what it can feel like to fall for a woman. It is undeniably relatable, undeniably queer and undeniably Sir Babygirl.
And then like a slap in the face, “Cheerleader” presents hyperfeminized self-destruction.
The song feels like feminine adolescence sprinkled with jealousy and topped off with a little bit of murder. By the end of the song you’re not sure if you’re supposed to be the cheerleader or if you took her down, but either way you get a taste of a very specific brand of delectable suffering.
Crush on Me partitions itself into acts, perfectly reflected in its nine-track run. Its first three songs are the adrenaline-fueled emotional highs that pair with the second act’s emotional lows. “Flirting with Her (Reprise)” underscores the energy of its predecessor with mellow strings and remorse-soaked laments of lost love. It’s as painful as it is felicitous in its brevity. “Haunted House” details a painfully real account of navigating social interaction punctuated by Hogue’s powerful vocals. Its succession with “Everyone is a Bad Friend” a coalescence of the anxious nihilism that permeates the record.
“Haunted House (Reprise)” presents an ethereal comedown from the album’s euphorically turbulent energy and the album hits its chameleonic stride in the face of the Avril Lavigne-esque “Pink Lite.” Its acquiescence is the perfect catharsis to the record, its place near the end of the record perfectly in line with the reality the album presents. And while the 8-bit optimism of the final track “Crush on Me (Outro)” comes nearly out of nowhere, it becomes clear that’s the only way the album could have ended. An ode to self-love in the face of the riotous all-over-the-place nature of existence.
Crush on Me is fun, eclectic, effecting and personal. The debut album is exactly as its closing track lyrics would suggest, “I’m not trying to project too much into the future / But I do have a good feeling about this one.”
Areyon Jolivette covers queer media. Contact her at [email protected].