Thursday, May 20th, 2021

Baby Queen – Dover Beach

Queen of the 2021 sidebar so far…


[Video]
[7.89]

Samson Savill de Jong: Baby Queen is so good. She’s so good. I realise that as a critical assessment that will inform others’ opinions or at least explain my own, saying how good Baby Queen is (which, to re-establish, is so fucking good) isn’t exactly the most useful or insightful, but just listen to this song and tell me I’m wrong. Most ominously, she might be getting better. It took a few listens for “Dover Beach” to completely click; I knew it was good immediately, but it took a little time for me to accept it was outstanding. But outstanding it is; Baby Queen seems to have perfected the art of making tightly controlled and well orchestrated songs that don’t sound stiff and lifeless but instead feel loose and have depth. I love the way she uses her voice as an instrument here too, especially those barely audible harmonies in the second chorus that rise into screams. I’m slightly worried that Baby Queen might be on a Carly Rae Jepsen trajectory, perennially underground for reasons that nobody could really explain, but I hope she gets a real crack at the mainstream because this deserves to be heard by as many people as possible. I swear I’m gonna lose it [any sense of critical distance and impartiality] if I keep playing your music [and consistently giving it high scores]. But [when the quality is just so. good.] what else is there to do?
[10]

Kayla Beardslee: I want to show up and give this song the score it deserves, but I also feel kind of silly writing about it — as if its greatness isn’t self-evident from the first listen! Yeah, Bella Latham’s writing is smart and sharp and just the right amount of unpredictable; yeah, the production is pristine but for those occasional, perfect pauses and crashes that amp up the emotional stakes; yeah, the one-two-three punch of new melodic sections in the last minute is transcendent. But why should I take up more of your time rambling about the lyrics when the track already lays all its brilliant cards on the table? “Dover Beach” is in fact extremely self-aware: it’s a song interrogating its own fixation, one that second-guesses its second-guessing — which I think makes it targeted directly at my own weird, edge-case, barely-Gen Z demographic — but what makes the track stand out is how it takes that cycle of cynical self-consciousness and turns it into something entertaining, conclusive, and, somehow, perfect.
[10]

Wayne Weizhen Zhang: Scaffolding hook after massive hook, Baby Queen engineers a sweetly romantic monument, blood red and ocean blue, that is as tremendous as it is precarious. If you have manic anxiety while dreaming about your crush, this place is sure to feel like a home. 
[8]

Ian Mathers: I get not wanting to repeat yourself, but honestly if you played me this and “Raw Thoughts” blind, I’m not sure I’d identify them both as by the same artist. This iteration just seems a lot less… distinctive?
[7]

Jeffrey Brister: It pushes, it pulls, it swirls and swoons, but it has narrow peaks and valleys, never exploding or dropping out. Makes it really hard to get caught up and swept away. It’s sumptuous and sounds beautiful, but it’s just filigree on a rather unremarkable song.
[5]

Vikram Joseph: Baby Queen gets a huge amount of mileage out of two chords and a bad break-up here, which is invariably a sign of an efficient pop songwriter. She mines similar headrush-pop territory as “Raw Thoughts”, except this time it’s all headrush and no hesitancy. There have been plenty of Lorde comparisons, and certainly “We’ve got incompatible star signs,” is the sort of thing a Lorde lyrics generator might spit out, but even more so “Dover Beach” brings to mind the effervescent synth-pop of Shura, Sigrid and, yes, Carly Rae Jepsen, too. I was critical of some of her lyrics last time around, but “You stole the view of Dover Beach” is a really vivid, succinct way of describing the way the unwanted memory of someone can supersede less painful forms of beauty. The dizzy chorus and her playful intonation ensure that the latter comes through too.
[8]

Scott Mildenhall: Baby Queen has found her own echo beach, and it’s one situated between a series of sound mirrors. Luckily for the heartbroken, Britain has many alternatives with less resonance, literary or otherwise, but they’re for another day. “Dover Beach” is the one and only here — a metaphor extending like elastic, with every twang backwards as sharp as the next. Baby Queen remains virtuosic; this is a masterful capsule of inability to achieve that independent coastal state.
[8]

Alfred Soto: I’m up for any song in which the singer gets a lift from pushing a lover down a cliff side, especially when the title nods toward the Bangles as much as Matthew Arnold, whom I could see lingering glumly on the cliff but lacking the courage to push anyone down. Baby Queen’s insouciant cadences sand the edges from the self-loathing.
[7]

Aaron Bergstrom: Matthew Arnold’s 1867 poem “Dover Beach” paints a bleak picture of a dark world engulfed by “the eternal note of sadness,” with romantic love offering the only prospect of solace. For Arnold personally, love had likely never been more real (he wrote the poem on his honeymoon), and it’s possible to imbue his words with an “us against the world” edge of optimism in the face of long odds. On her own “Dover Beach,” Baby Queen attempts to do him one better, standing alone and asking even harder questions: Can we find that same hope in unrequited love? Can the mere prospect of love be enough to serve as a comfort in those dark times “when the mirror says I’m ugly and if anybody loves me, it’s a lie”? While she doesn’t provide any answers, the fact that she chose to present those questions cloaked in shimmering M83-inspired synth-pop does give me some hope.
[8]

Reader average: [9.66] (3 votes)

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