Look, we called it back with Crying In The Club: Camila Cabello has what it takes to be a new generation’s pop darling. It’s bold enough to take on that Xtina classic (which we’d argue is still her best single) but then to follow it up with an easy, breezy Havana? Well, needless to say, not many of your faves could ever. Especially if your faves are Fifth Harmony.
Even if that capturing of both lightning and Genie in a bottle has been scrapped for Camila, there’s certainly no dearth of freshness in this solo debut. Cabello flutters all over opening track Never Be The Same, traversing octaves like they’re the corpses of her former bandmates’ careers. Say what you want about so-called ‘manufactured’ pop, there’s no doubt that this star can back up her credentials with an endearing voice of her own.
If there’s one casualty of the whole industry side, it’s the absence of any direct hit at her previous life. But doing so is a shrewd move from Camila Cabello and her team, brushing off all controversy in a deft example of “I don’t know her” while letting her music do all the talking. It’s a mature decision that puts aside 5H’s acrid VMA performance and sets out exactly the sort of popstar Cabello wants to be… or maybe she just heard their last album and decided it wouldn’t take much to better it. Who knows.
And talk her music does… well, not just talk. It sways on She Loves Control, it gently cascades on All These Years, and it bounces like Cuban hydraulics on Havana. So it’s annoying that Cabello is given such a raw deal in the mid-section – Inside Out‘s dancehall-indebted beats suck all the life out of its source material, and Consequences is another female-pop piano ballad that no one will remember a week. Seriously, whoever seems to make these a prerequisite for pop albums needs to be put out to pasture along with that model.
Does Camila Cabello do anything new? Not at all, but that doesn’t stop this album being great fun and a pleasant surprise for everyone willing a clearly talented young lady to fail. And you only need to hear closing track Into It (which should be the next single if anyone has a lick of sense) to know how brilliantly Cabello uses that same talent: she’s light-footed, uncluttered, and eschews drama for some solid tunes. For a solo debut, that’ll certainly do.