XYLØ’s “unamerican beauty” Is Full of Lost Innocence

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XYLØ releases her debut album “unamerican beauty,” a reflection of a young woman inside an uncertain country.

XYLØ releases her debut album "unamerican beauty," a reflection of a young woman inside an uncertain country.
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Album Overview

After four EPs and many singles, XYLØ drops her first full-length album, and she has many things to say. In this effort, she takes a hard look at her country or what it has become. In an interview, the California native said, “The album to me is one long road trip in the car, reflecting on my youth and the innocence that has been lost. The things that once meant so much to me, like family, womanhood and pride in my country, have taken on a totally different meaning. America has changed, and so have I.”

Before her four singles, she released a cryptic album teaser that summed up the album’s aesthetics and message clearly. Over the montage of a crazed Ronald McDonald, workplace harassment, and stalkers, XYLØ attends church. The only good in a bad world.

The album starts off with “unamerican beauty,” a dark synth, guitar, and trap start to a 12-track experience. She uses polarizing religious mementos to offset the disturbing reality of pop culture like plastic surgery and conspicuous consumption. Unamerican beauty captures just how far gone current American values are.

However, XYLØ doesn’t condense her perspective to societal issues, and on “red hot winter,” she examines the climate change crisis.

Over the course of the album, XYLØ journals pivotal introspective and retrospective life moments into beautiful dark pop masterpieces. And when she’s not doing that, she examines larger issues in relation to America in some way. However, nothing feels out of place because she crafts a world where she’s the center, the grounding point, and the seer.

Top Tracks Off “unamerican beauty” by XYLØ

something to cry about

The queen of dark pop wants everything bad. The track is haunting and somehow a wink. Atop the whispery adlibs, she sings, “If it’s bad for me, then I want it / If it’s a tragedy, yeah, I want it.” It also highlights how we depend on knowingly bad things to feel cathartic in the aftermath. After the chorus, “But I’m addicted to the pain / I want to fall in love,, so there’s something to cry about,” the beat drops into a wicked trap rhythm filled with laughter and taunts. Sometimes, we just need a toxic love for a good cry.

sugar free rush

With its beginning theatrical strings, there is an abrupt transition into percussive basslines and echoing synth arpeggios. The track quickly switches from dreamy pre-choruses to attitude-infused choruses. It is a certified banger. XYLØ sings with attitude, “Sugar free/ Got me crawling like a baby / Sugar free rush /Feeling fucking crazy.” From XYLØ herself, “‘sugar free rush’ is about experimenting with things that you’re scared of. A point in your life where you’re stupid enough to try it and smart enough to afford it.”

starfucker

From a live stream, XYLØ explained that this song is for “bad bitches who f*cked their way to the top.” After listening again, the lyrics are more evocative. And it can be a counterpart to Lana Del Rey‘s “Fucked My Way Up To The Top” from her sophomore album Ultraviolence. Perhaps it is a similar vengeful stab at her critics or the industry. This track is a straight burn. She sings, “Skin in the game, you won’t forget my name / Starf*cker, but I’m a good, good girl in a bad man’s world.”

sweetheart

From XYLØ, she says, “‘sweetheart’ is a metaphor for regaining control of your life. The song was inspired by the journey of my career and the fear of ending toxic relationships. But with that fear came confidence and happiness after I found the balls to do it.” It is a  glistening anthem empowering listeners to break free from toxic relationships—whatever their form.  The up-tempo track uses fast-paced kick drums, gun sounds (similar to yes & no EP,) and lovey-dovey adlibs to affirm her leaving. She sings, “Since you did what you said you would never do to me / Well, click-click, bang-bang/ This sweetheart ain’t so sweet.”

driving (sonata 2011)

On the closing track, XYLØ presents the best driving song on the record. (It could be the clear favorite on the album.) On the same livestream, she explains that the song is “chill nostalgia.” Fueled by echoes, snaps, and forward-facing vocals, the artist paints a portrait of a person trying to find their way amidst the chaos. Driving is the only sanity she knows. It is rhythmic and captivating. Soon, she leaves us in the dust with parting words.

Decker Canyon to PCH, I’ve made mistakes all over town / The friend I made at the liquor store, I wonder how he’s doing now / I think I’ll keep this car forever, the stereo sounds so fucking good / Don’t know when I’ll be arriving, so I’ll keep on driving.

 

Per her Twitter, XYLØ plans to have an eventful release month with many surprises for her fans. There are even some hints at a tour on her Instagram. Make sure to follow XYLØ (and us) for the latest!

What do you think of XYLØ’s debut album, “unamerican beauty”? Let us know in the comments!
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