I don’t think there’s been an R&B album as cohesive as Chloe x Halle’s Ungodly Hour since SZA’s 2014 album, Ctrl. There have been some admirable records from some stellar artists, like Kali Uchis’ Isolation and Kelela’s Take Me Apart but Chloe x Halle take the crown for a complete ‘no-skips’ record.
After an ear-worm of a first single back in May with ‘Do It’ from veteran R&B producer Scott Storch, it was clear that the Bailey sisters were back with a brand new sound. The duo may be the protégés of Beyoncé, which is clear in their classy and seamless rap/sung lyrics but Chloe’s production on songs like ‘Baby Girl’ and the title track ‘Ungodly Hour’ sound more like that of a Solange record, hauntingly romantic and making a very bold statement that they are not the same kids from their breakout 2017 album.
Tracks like ‘Tipsy’ and ‘Busy Boy’ are the two major examples of such a change with kick-ass lyrics like “I’ll take you to the afterlife, boy if you ain’t acting right/Key your car and crash the lights, hit your head I’m not polite.” Ungodly Hour as a whole is very much an early twenty-something’s album: troublesome relationships, self-reflection and most importantly; regrettable drunk decisions. For example, ‘Do It’ is basically a retelling of how the girls get ready for a messy night out with their friends, set to a classic 90s R&B rhythm and is still one of the best showcases of their vocals to date.
The sisters’ voices are a standout in the crowd of 2020 records. Chloe’s accented drawl in live performances of ‘ROYL’ sometimes rivals that of the studio recorded vocals and Halle’s voice is so precious and effortless on tracks like ‘Wonder What She Thinks Of Me’ that it is no surprise why she will soon be on our screens as Ariel in Disney’s live-action adaptation of The Little Mermaid.
Speaking of live performances, Chloe x Halle have managed to keep on performing despite the COVID-19 lockdown in successive must-see appearances, like at the GLAAD Awards where they appeared alongside RuPaul’s Drag Race alumni in a killer Spice Girls homage. The sisters have even made the tennis court in their backyard go viral, turning it into their very own concert stage for performances of ‘Do It’ and photoshoots for Teen Vogue and Fendi.
There are no songs on this album that you want to skip past
Overall, I’ve recommended this album to people by calling both Chloe and Halle ‘young Ms. Lauryn Hills’. Ungodly Hour is one of the most unique releases of 2020 so far because no other R&B record this year has been such an easy listen from start to finish. There are no songs on this album that you want to skip past, not even the almost unnecessary feature of rapper Swae Lee on ‘Catch Up.’ Chloe x Halle have some of the most sleek vocals of their generation and the fact that Chloe has produced a number of tracks on this record singlehandedly is so admirable. Ungodly Hour is definitely an underrated must-listen.
Last modified: 7th August 2020