Sir Babygirl’s debut album is endearingly, excessively vibrant

“Crush on Me” is a brief, fast-paced pop album that looks beyond the genre’s normal tropes.

Pop music is usually not something that is considered to be “weird.” In fact, its very name suggests that it is not supposed to be strange, outlandish or bizarre. This does not reflect the reality of the situation, as it seems like more artists and producers are willing to freely borrow and twist pop tropes into songs that are dynamic and colorful.

Under the name Sir Babygirl, Kelsie Hogue locates herself in the vein of other creators who are straddling the alternative and the popular. On her debut album “Crush on Me,” she embraces the space between genres with gusto, gleefully crafting her own hyper-individualistic sound.

“Crush on Me” is built around a curious mix of 90s pop production and Hogue’s distinct voice. On the track “Everyone is a Bad Friend,” she balances lyrics about uneasy and insecure friendships with spiky synths. “So you think you’re good at denial/ Got a knife in my back but all you see is my smile,” she sings over the track’s synth-based production. Moments like this – where Hogue’s personal songwriting juxtaposes her extravagant production – are the crux of what makes “Crush on Me” such a magnetic album.

Coming in at nine songs, the only major weakness of “Crush on Me” is its short track list – three of the songs are under two minutes, leaving very little room for error over the album’s 26-minute runtime. Fortunately, Hogue’s glittery, eclectic alt-pop is compelling and catchy enough to leave a strong impression in such a short window.

“Crush on Me” moves at a breakneck pace with songs that are maximalist in every sense of the word. The short runtime is not really an issue at all, then – it lets the listener appreciate the album’s vibrancy without getting exhausted by its consistently high energy levels.

"Crush on Me” is concerned with self-expression in the most personal sense of the world. The album is driven by a wide-eyed excitement that is maintained from the propulsive drums and blissful vocal layers of “Heels” — which opens the album — through its close with the glitzy synthesizers and quirky cuteness of the titular “Crush on Me (Outro)”.

Sir Babygirl’s creativity reigns supreme as she takes touchstones of Generation Z angst and pulls them out into the vivid lyrics of “Crush on Me.” “Cheerleader” is about popularity as much as it is about sexuality, while “Haunted House” is a surreal look at empty hedonism and party culture. “Crush on Me (Outro)” is an ode to self-love, but differs from the standard formula for self-empowerment in its cheekiness. As the song concludes, Hogue faux-nervously speaks the album’s closing lines: “So, yeah, I have a new crush/ I didn't want to tell you until it was official/ But, I have a–/ It's on me, um we're just gonna ride this one out/ We're gonna see where it takes us/ I’m not trying to project too much into the future/ But I’ve got a good feeling about this one, so.”

The song “Flirting with Her” also addresses difficulty with self-expression, but lyrical focus on queer romance help prevent it from sounding played out. In fact, the entire album sounds refreshing and creative, despite the obvious the 90s pop nostalgia that informs its sound. “Crush on Me” is fast-paced and consistently exciting across its runtime.

Each song is another trip through a charming wonderland of glittering synthesizers, lyrics that are just as catchy as they are insightful and Hogue’s impassioned vocal delivery. At a cursory listen, “Crush on Me” might seem overblown and absurd, but deeper focus uncovers an album that is not only deeply personal, but also infectiously exciting.

Edited by Joe Cross | jcross@themaneater.com

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