Courtesy of Epic Records

December 9, 2019

TEST SPIN | Camila Cabello — ‘Romance’

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In between sucking face with Shawn Mendes courtside and becoming one half of the most meme-able couple of 2019, Camila Cabello has been falling in love, falling out of love and falling back in it again. More importantly, she’s been writing songs about all of it.

On Romance, Cabello is clearly drawing from more personal material (taking cues from her pop-star contemporaries Taylor Swift and Selena Gomez). Sonically, the album is an amalgamation of songs we have already heard on the radio. Some are undoubtedly hits, but others feel half-baked and some others are simply annoying to listen to — especially those that make generous use of her signature falsetto.

Most of the first half of Romance feels like different iterations of the same overly produced love song. However, I did appreciate the variety of sounds used; Romance makes use of Latin-inspired guitars, trap beats and of course classic pop instrumentals. But even so, the radio-ready tracks on this album seem to easily blur together, with few sticking out as clear hits. “Shameless” is an attempt to recreate the angst of Cabello’s 2017 hit “Never Be the Same,” with the dramatics dialed up even higher than ever before. Despite the strong build-up to the chorus of this track, it ultimately just does not pack the punch that “Never Be the Same” did and simply is not as memorable.

The sweet revenge song “Should’ve Said It” and the danceable “Liar” get better with a bit of time and I have found myself accidentally humming them to myself after a couple of listens, but unfortunately, many of the other tracks simply fall flat and blend into one another.

The low spot of Romance for me is stuck right in the middle of the album with “Bad Kind of Butterflies” and is meant to be somewhat of a thesis statement for the project: Camilla is in love with someone, but she wants someone else. Presumably, this is drawn from her real-life experiences as Cabello has been in two serious relationships during the creation of this album. While the concept is a tale as old as time, “Bad Kind of Butterflies” is annoyingly dramatic and the production makes it oddly feel almost like a Halloween themed track.

The bright spots on the second half of the album redeem the repetitiveness of the first. “Easy” is a love song with a chorus that makes it almost impossible to hate: “Always thought I was hard to love, ‘till you made it seem so easy.”

“Used to This” is undeniably a bop and “First Man” is a sweet and emotional letter to Cabello’s father, the first man she ever loved. Both were uncoincidentally produced by Grammy-nominated producer Finneas, as they are unquestionably the high point of the album, both sonically and in their honest delivery.

On Romance, Cabello has not fully formed a unique voice within the industry, but she has proven her ability to churn out a slate of hit pop songs, even at the expense of a few fails.

Jean Cambareri is a sophomore in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. She can be reached at [email protected].