Sunday, February 26, 2017

All Your Fault, Pt. 1 | Bebe Rexha

Two years ago, when we last received a full body of work from Bebe Rexha, the Albanian singer-songwriter wanted the world to know that she was a bad bitch. Her I Don't Wanna Grow Up extended play introduced us to a stubborn, rebellious misfit archetype – a self-proclaimed bat-shit psychopath. A few years and a taste of commercial success later, Rexha has redefined her own idea of a bad bitch, playing the marketable, platinum-headed conformist with a Beats by Dr. Dre sponsorship on the first installment of her debut album, All Your Fault.

Closing the six-song teaser of the album, the aptly titled "Bad Bitch" finds a braggadocious Rexha listing off things that make her the baddest gal to ever step foot into some Adidas-branded undergarments: She pays her own bills. She buys her own rings. She knows it isn't fair that you can't touch her – but feel free to look. And when she's not priding herself over some glossy urban-tinged backdrops, she's making far too many parallels between love and drugs than should be contained in a six-track extended play. (Regardless of their titles, "Small Doses" and "Gateway Drug" aren't particularly memorable, if you're wondering.) It all comes off as a forced charade that, after acting as the basis of most of this album's tracks, is exhausting by the time we reach the sixth track.

Luckily, if nothing else, she hasn't lost touch with the distracting electronic atmospheres that agree best with that voice of hers – usually overmodulated in these studio tracks, it's one that carries a shrill, polarizing tone – in her image transition. In fact, while the pinched runs in the post-chorus of "I Got You" are bound to leave rug rash on some listeners' eardrums, its chorus is perhaps the most ear-catching moment of this extended play, when the punchy synthesizers and drum clips take precedent over the static melody line that doesn't demand too much from our ringleader. (In short, it employs the same tactics that made most of the songs from her first extended play so enticing.)

Now, with a direction that relies on a submissive conformance to contemporary Top 40 trends, Bebe Rexha seems to have stalled. For this phase, she's jacked Meghan Trainor's lyrical staples of ego-centrism and love and painted them with Tove Lo's explicit façades. Even MØ, who underwent an equally drastic image reinvention in the wake of worldwide commercial success, has enjoyed a smoother, more authentic transition – an astonishing thought when examining just how decisive MØ's long-winded new era has been for her earliest fans. In her defense, Rexha did wave a bellwether track at us last year to indicate the winds of change – the Nicki Minaj-featuring "No Broken Hearts" – but in my defense, I knew even then that it was indicative of a change in the wrong direction for work to come.

All Your Fault, Pt. 1 is available now under Warner Bros. Records.

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