During quarantine, it is easy to feel isolated. After months of sitting in the same set of rooms, a feeling of claustrophobia begins to set in. Despite social media repeating endlessly that “we are all in this together,” one can’t help but feel as though the universe has some sort of personal vendetta against them. It especially doesn’t help that many of our favorite artists have either decided to or have been forced to halt production on their upcoming projects. However, there have been some artists who have heard our cries for new entertainment to pass our time with and have been able to put to pen the difficult-to-articulate experiences we have each had during quarantine. These are my favorites.
1. CHARLI XCX — how i’m feeling now
Hailing from the United Kingdom, Charli XCX had a meteoric rise to fame during the 2010s for her forward-thinking fusion of EDM and Pop. Her discography has served as one of the cornerstones for the hyperpop genre and her catchy songwriting is infectious. Typically known for her bubbly upbeat pop tunes, fans wondered how a quarantine themed album from Charli would turn out considering that there is not much to be made light of during these difficult times. Yet she delivered: her short record titled how i’m feeling now lyrically delves into themes of isolation, feeling caged in, appreciation, and self-reflection. Production over the course of this record varies from passionate pop ballads like the track “7 years” about a deepening sense of affection Charli has for her partner, to buzzing electronic bangers like the track “anthems” about missing the partying lifestyle in quarantine. For any pop fan that has found themselves missing parties and friends, this album is a fantastic and catchy encapsulation of the complex feelings and self-reflection that many of us have experienced during our time indoors.
2. FIONA APPLE — Fetch the Bolt Cutters
Fiona Apple’s Fetch the Bolt Cutters is perhaps one of the singer-songwriter’s most unhinged and experimental projects yet. Fiona Apple has always stood out amongst her contemporaries in the art-pop genre, in part because the long spans of time between each of her albums results in each album having an impact upon release. This time, after an eight-year hiatus, Fiona Apple dropped the manic Bolt Cutters, which feels as though every song was recorded in a single frenzied yet methodic take. Despite being recorded over the course of five years, the themes of feeling trapped physically and emotionally and then breaking free feel all too pertinent to the current pandemic. Album highlight “Shameika” is about a girl from Apple’s childhood who told the then-bullied Apple that she “had potential,” and is reminiscent of the self-reflection many of us have been doing on our pasts during self-isolation. The title track features strange hits of percussion—household items and barking dogs become instruments—and with the chorus, “Fetch the bolt cutters, I’ve been in here too long,” synthesize to create a song that captures the anxieties and distractions many of us are experiencing in our homes right now. Fetch the Bolt Cutters is anxious, uncertain, and strange, but also cathartic for any listener in the contemporary time.
3. CHROMEO — Quarantine Casanova
Legendary Canadian, funktronic, and synthpop duo Chromeo has always been known for their catchy tunes and sense of humor, which may lead many to wonder how a band that is known for their humor could tackle the serious topics of a global pandemic. Well, the answer is simple: with tasteful humor rather than abandoning it altogether. Chromeo’s five-track EP titled Quarantine Casanova is a set of tracks that find small yet relatable experiences and point out the humor. As the title suggests, there are a couple of love songs on this EP that are both quarantine- themed. Track one is written from the perspective of a man who wants an ex-lover to want him back; however, the only reason that he can think of for her to want him back is if he were something desirable—a Clorox wipe. The following track similarly deals with a man promising to stay six feet away from a lover as a means of showing devotion. Track three, titled “Stay In Bed (And Do Nothing)” challenges the idea that we should be productive and active with quarantine’s free time. Instead, the lyrics suggest that one should not feel ashamed for wanting to sit around and do nothing during a global pandemic if they do not feel up to it, and should focus on their mental health. The final two tracks, “’Roni Got Me Stressed Out” and “Cabin Fever” deal with feeling overwhelmed and helpless in managing the chaos of the world around you. With funky electronic production and an ’80s flair, Chromeo has assembled a series of relatable tracks that will surely lift the spirit of anyone who feels down and get a laugh out of any listener.
Considering how easy it can be during these difficult times to feel alone in your experiences, it is reassuring to know that there are other people out there who are able to relate to the shared experiences of the pandemic and that can articulate those ideas so effectively. For anyone looking for a cathartic experience or simply entertainment, all three of these projects are a great place to start.