Review: Tate McRae’s ‘I Used to Think I Could Fly’

before Tate McRae attempting to take the pop world by storm, she was a former finalist So you think you can dance? who had a vlog series showcasing her singer-songwriting skills. In 2019, one of the videos she recorded – a piano ballad called “One Day” – went viral on YouTube and landed her a deal with RCA. It wasn’t long before her 2020 luscious dark pop”you broke me first‘ also became a viral hit. Since then, McRae has been right on the “sad girl” trail, channeling the Lorde-meets-Billie-Eilish brand of youthful despair and evolving into a more genre-bending version of Olivia Rodrigo. Now, with their debut album, I used to think I could flyshe tries to find out what her rising fame means and who she is.

On I used to think I could fly, the 18-year-old singer tries to find her place in the fog of teenage angst as she grapples with the tribulations of growing up, such as losing friends, lying ex-partners and self-deprecation. But despite its major-label push as Gen Z’s next big pop sensation, the result is an inconsistent debut brimming with both surefire anthems and one-note pop songs, with sometimes youthful lyrics and boring storytelling. “There was a girl/Not too different from me/She thought she found her world/But then the world found out she’s weak,” she tells Boy X.

Across the slew of slow jams, club-ready anthems and amorous ballads, there are undoubtedly sticky standouts. “Don’t Come Back” is one of the rising Canadian star’s most infectious outings, in which she recalls the loss of a lover or friend over an interpolated chorus from Nelly’s 2001 hit “Ride Wit Me.” Fueled by a booming bass smack, “I’m So Gone” is a scathing kiss to an ex who pushed her away. “I never left your dad’s basement / Now you’re mad I made it,” she boasts. Co-written by Alexander 23 and Charlie Puth, the edgy “What Would U Do?” acts as the second chapter of “I’m So Gone” and features one of the album’s catchiest choruses. A club-ready, hip-hop track, “What’s Your Problem” seems poised to set the tone for a sexy feast on an episode of gossip girl. But there’s a reason McRae’s version of Rodrigo’s “Jealousy, Jealousy,” She’s All I Want to Be, and Chaotic, a superb piano ballad reminiscent of Billie Eilish’s haunting, lilting vocals, were her singles . The singer is definitely adept at making intoxicating, cathartic songs that wrestle with longing and crushing disappointment.

Aside from “Chaotic,” McRae’s other ballads like the heavenly “I Still Say Goodnight” – co-written by Finneas – “Hate Myself” and “Boy X” are largely forgotten. While “Cool” has an airy, hypnotic backbeat, its execution is monotonous, and the hazy, synth-tinged “Go Away,” in which a distant McRae laments the pitfalls of success, feels like filler by the end. In the end, it’s clear she thrives most when reminiscent of Hayley Williams or Avril Lavigne — or forging her own brand of dance-pop.

While I used to think I could fly Undeniably offering a handful of gripping tracks, there remains a disconnect when it comes to McRae’s identity, which may have something to do with the distance between her dance competition and the TikTok teenage fandom. Or maybe due to the success of her cross-genre singles, there’s a lack of cohesion she’s still trying to find. McRae’s debut doesn’t exactly set her apart from the sea of ​​algorithmic pop girls, but it definitely shows promise. Review: Tate McRae’s ‘I Used to Think I Could Fly’

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