The minute a pop band finds success, the first question on the tip of everyone’s tongue is who will be the first to go solo. In the case of X Factor alums Fifth Harmony, the answer was obvious and came in the form of frontwoman Camila Cabello. From her various solo projects, as well as the less than subtle cracks in the group’s united front, her leave was inevitable. When it came, the question turned to how it would affect both parties. Her former bandmates proved that it wasn’t the best thing for them with their less than successful third album dropping last year. Cabello, however, has had better luck, luck that continues on her debut.
Following the failed launch of ‘Crying in the Club’, Cabello found her footing on the latin-tinged smash ‘Havana’ which is a good indicator of what the rest of the album has to offer. Although the track would benefit without the Young Thug and comes a little too close to sounding eerily similar to Selena Gomez’s ‘Same Old Love’, the track is an undeniable earworm. Its follow-up, ‘Never Be The Same’ is less of an earworm. The album opener is a slow EDM-tinged pop ballad that showcases Cabello’s vocal range marvellously, and even if the love-drug comparison that the lyrics are based upon is a bit clichéd, the production makes it sound fresh.
The album slows way too fast with its second track ‘All These Years’. A straight up acoustic ballad, ‘All These Years’ never elevates itself beyond being just that and never truly finds its groove. The same can’t be said for the album’s other acoustic efforts. ‘Real Friends’ is a wonderfully sassy yet raw up-beat acoustic pop track that is slightly too coincidental to not be about her former bandmates. ‘Consequences’ provides a marvellous raw moment that is heightened from brilliantly sparse production choices backed up by an unusually low-key vocal performance. However, the album’s highlight comes in the stunning ‘Something’s Gotta Give’. The only song on the album where the lyrics, vocals and production all fire on all cylinders and provides one of the most effecting and swelling pop ballads of recent times.
The Latin-laced pop of ‘Havana’ is used across the album, to varying degrees of succes. The Shrillex-produced ‘She Loves Control’ uses Cabello’s roots to yield one of the album’s most sure-fire hits but manages to never sound like a desperate attempt to replicate ‘Havana’. ‘Inside Out’ is a more tropical but less mature track that, despite the Latin infusion, oddly sounds less genuine than the tracks that surround it, a problem that occurs on the album’s closer. ‘Into It’ is a safe example of an modern electro-pop track that is overly-sexual and never sounds as real as Cabello sounds on the rest of her debut. That’s not to say electro-pop doesn’t work for Cabello. ‘In The Dark’ is a fabulous pop jam that builds from its slow throbbing verses to its beautiful skipping chorus.
Overall, Camila shows that leaving her group behind truly was the best move for Cabello. It uses its biggest asset to its advantage which is its star as Cabello’s voice encapsulates everything the album is – genuine, unique and raw. While it has it’s weak moments, Camila’s strongest moments make for one of the most exciting and promising pop debuts of the decade.