Review Summary: The Hopelessness of Camila Cabello's Romance
Camila Cabello may have achieved artistic evolution by the final track of her sophomore album, Romance. But she took Â*too long to get there. Although sonically inventive and catchy, the first 13 songs of the record don't give insight into Camila as an artist or as a person. We know she's working with some new producers and experimenting with rock, specifically on "This Love." (Why does every pop artist have a song called "This Love"?) But to maintain upward career trajectory, artists needs to show multidimensionality on a second album. They can't just provide a new take on the sound from their first.
Although Camilaâ€™s first album was catchy, fun, and somewhat substantive, it failed to rise above the fact that it was a pop album. All great pop albums do this. The best still sound like pop doing it. (Taylor Swift's 1989, for example). Not every pop artist is expected to rise above pop itself, especially on their first album. However on the second, there is one thing you must rise above: yourself. And unfortunately, for the majority of the Romance, Camila fails to do that.
Camilaâ€™s work until this point, although tinged with individuality, still feels like an industry ploy. She embraced her latin roots on â€śHavannaâ€ť and â€śSeniorita,â€ť but even those hits bore the mark of an industry executive telling Camilla to pimp out her latin roots for mainstream popularity. Americans loves minorities who pigeonhole themselves, unfortunately. We shouldn't we blame Camilla for taking advantage of this. It's an obstacle white artists don't face. Maybe the real obstacle is critics like me punishing her for it, whether she was doing it authentically or not.
Nevertheless, Cabello is one of those artists who likes to tweet when theyâ€™re in the studio. Sure, itâ€™s nice to update your fans. But doing this shows that writing and recording music are novelties for the artist doing it. Maybe that's true for Cabello because she's a new artist. But only her solo career is new. She has released three albums with Fifth Harmony. Maybe artists who find writing and recording music a novelty so far into their careers aren't artists. They're people with a very lucrative hobby.
It would be pointless to recount Romanceâ€™s sonic highlights (of which, admittedly, there are many). To me, the only worthwhile song on the album is its closer "First Man." Here, Camila perfects the art of a pop song with ample meaning and little specificity. The song recounts a boy waiting outside Camila's house in his car, while she assures her father that the boy is a good guy.Â* Although clichĂ©, thatâ€™s pop. Camila makes it fresh by telling her father he's the "First Man" who ever loved her. For an album called Romance, it seems a little weird that one of the songs would be about her dad. But at least the "First Man" doesn't refer to the first boy she ever loved. That would be really cliche.