Opener ‘Baby Kingdom’ is one of two spoken interludes that bookend the album, perfectly introducing us to the poetic, diary-like honesty that threads this mixtape together. Then the bangers get underway; the flawless ‘Raw Thoughts’ starts low-key before giving way to pure pop jubilation, and a hook so irresistible it’s difficult to let the song end without your brain itching to hit replay. But treasures abound ahead: ‘You Shaped Hole’ jangles golden piano juxtaposed with more down-beat lyrics recounting the heart-ripped-out pain of a breakup, in a similar vein to Paramore’s ‘Hard Times'.
Taking notes from earlier hit ‘Want Me’ in their daydream longing and the unbridled desperation of a crush, ‘American Dream’ and ‘Dover Beach’ are perfectly crafted pop with a fuzzy edge, catchy and crisp, the former aided by the honeyed vocals of similarly fast-rising star MAY-A. Their bittersweet euphoria bleeds into the sombre comedown of ‘Pt. 2’, and it’s at this point that the mood evolves to unlock a new level of vulnerability in the final few tracks. ‘These Drugs’ is bitingly open on substance use for warped self-medication, while ‘I’m A Mess’ glistens with bouncing synths as it carves out a story of shame and depression (“I want to be more like my sister/cos she can make her bed”).
The contrasts on display here freshly reveal Baby Queen’s ability to fearlessly soundtrack the whole picture, showing us the dazzling height of the party as well as the melancholy of the morning after. Whetting our appetite for a debut album, The Yearbook sees Baby Queen climbing the ranks of alt-pop royalty.