FLETCHER: Girl of My Dreams Album Review

FLETCHER: Girl of My Dreams Album Review


Cari Fletcher first heard Katy Perry’s “I Kissed a Girl” as her mom drove her to middle school. “That was the moment I was like, ‘Okay, maybe I like girls,’” she told GLAAD about 15 years later. She took online quizzes with titles like “Am I gay?” and googled—a lot. Fletcher eventually came out as queer, and sought to center that experience in her twinkling, fizzy pop. Her songs are dense with unfiltered disclosures. In 2020, she released a seven-song EP called The S(ex) Tapes about the demolition of a relationship; her ex-girlfriend shot the music videos. A year later, Fletcher returned to Katy Perry with “girls girls girls,” a one-off single built around a glossy interpolation of the “I Kissed a Girl” chorus. The song underwhelms: It’s stuffed with clichés about hanging onto the moment and a girl who “looks like a masterpiece.” But just before she launches into the chorus, Fletcher coos, “Go tell your mom it’s not a phase.” It’s a fleeting pulse of affirmation, a wink to queer women who’ve had their identities dismissed.

There’s an easy appeal to an artist who dangles this many confessions; intimacy is a shortcut to affection. Fletcher focuses so much of her music on asserting how vulnerable she is, but every attempt to express that vulnerability comes off as vague and nonspecific. On Girl of My Dreams, her full-length debut, she once again hides behind concerted confessions. The record traces a breakup and the resulting path to a Lizzo-ified concept of self-love. The titular “girl of my dreams” turns out to be Fletcher herself. She hurls the phrase “I love you, bitch” at herself in the mirror. Elsewhere, she assigns clunky labels to her emotions without interrogating or even fully articulating them. “Existential crisis mode,” she wails over flitting drums on “Conversations,” grasping at linguistic shortcuts to carry the weight of her internal monologue. “Get myself in situations/Different people, different places,” she sing-shouts on “Serial Heartbreaker,” a Paramore-indebted track built on catchy, twitching synths.

There are shards of intriguing ideas buried in the album’s plodding acoustics and garish rock-pop confections, but Fletcher fails to excavate them. “Birthday Girl” strains to carry the conceit about sharing a birthday with an ex. “Becky’s So Hot,” a single engineered for virality and shock value with a video starring Bella Thorne, becomes a flimsy caricature about lusting after an ex’s new girlfriend: “She flame emoji, wow,” Fletcher yowls over a melodramatic guitar.

She litters the album with awkward traces of Internet-speak, shouting “fuck you to the bad vibes” on “For Cari” and describing herself as “singing the sad girl songs” on the title track. Fletcher alternates between trite similes—green eyes the color of a forest, feelings that surge like a tidal wave, heartbreak that hits like a missile—and gushing admissions about how hot, tormented, or devious her love interest is. Even the propulsive thump of “Sting,” the best song on the album, sags when tenderness curdles into melodrama: Fletcher turns from prodding at the pain of a failed relationship to wailing about diamond rings. The New Jersey-raised artist is a songwriter who feels deeply, who is so intent on conveying the intensity of her emotions that she skips over any sense of stakes. The women at the center of these songs are flat, blank spaces: The only concrete image she provides is a Taylor Swift shirt crumpled on an ex’s floor.

Fletcher makes songs so queer women can see themselves in her, slotting our aches and anxieties into her skittering pop. On “Her Body Is Bible,” she sings about the sanctity of a desire so clear it empties you out. Pop has braided the sacred and the profane for so long that it barely registers as subversive, but when Fletcher hurls “amens” over a climbing beat, or when she flounders to describe what she’s feeling and all she can come up with is heaven, she shakes you into paying attention. Every so often, there’s a comfort in her generalizations. But to find it, you’ll have to wade through the treacly platitudes, frenzied drum patterns, and wince-inducing lyrics. Only then will Girl of My Dreams deliver something close to salient. 

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FLETCHER: Girl of My Dreams


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