Published Dec 06, 2019Camila Cabello took the pop world by storm when she left X-Factor byproduct Fifth Harmony and released her critically acclaimed solo album, Camila, in 2018. Her Latin-influenced music is back on her sophomore album, Romance, but the vulnerability that gave Camila its soul has been left behind.
It would be easy to lump Romance in with the many underwhelming attempts young artists make in an effort to transition into selling sex and love as they enter their early 20s. But it's not the subject matter — the grandiose idea of romance — that misses the mark, it's that the overall overproduction and focus on chasing an earworm that makes it impossible to retain the authenticity found on her previous hits "Consequence" and "Never Be the Same."
Romance does eventually find that vibrancy, but only in its most vulnerable moments, which are unfortunately found later in the tracklist. Albums of this nature aren't generally known for their deep cuts, but if they were, "Easy" would stand out. Its lyrics skip the generic "countin' freckles" clichés found on "Living Proof" and instead uses one-off moments that feel real. "This Love" is a stripped-back admission of defeat at the hands of an indecisive lover that showcases Camila's strong vocals; the song overcomes initial indifference and makes a comeback with a catchy bridge that sticks with you long after it ends.
Breakout single "Señorita" has already proven itself on the charts. People adore young pop stars in love; Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello deliver on this. The song itself is fine; Cabello overpowers Mendes' softer vocals, but it is her track, even though the song doesn't take full advantage of Mendes' vocal capabilities. Her pitched vocals dance all over his, letting his lie rather flat in the background.
The pop canon is changing and the same formulaic approach is being rejected. Billie Eillish, Lizzo, Lana Del Rey and even Taylor Swift are continuously breaking the moulds that some of them helped build. Despite bringing on Eillish's brother and producer Finneas to produce "Used to This," Romance still relies on a structure that is becoming increasingly irrelevant, which ultimately overshadows many of the album's redeemable moments. (Epic)