In his 1973 song, “Trenchtown Rock,” Bob Marley said, “One good thing about music, when it hits you feel no pain.” Chloe x Halle’s debut album, The Kids Are Alright, is an absolute affirmation of this quote; when they sing all pain is ameliorated. The Kids Are Alright is a nearly hour-long journey through adolescence and young adulthood through the lens of contemporary R&B.
Although their voices are steeped in soul, the sound of the album shifts across multiple genres including rock, rap, pop, and jazz, resulting in a record of fearlessness and triumph. This duo is mentored by none other than Beyoncé, and her vocal influence is all over this album. Specifically on rumored new single, “Happy Without Me,” and album closer, “Fall,” Chloe x Halle adopt her style of runs and riffs. Elsewhere on the album, the girls also exhibit their best staccato rap-singing. Although this duo is influenced by a myriad of vocalists and artists, The Kids Are Alright still feels authentic. Chloe x Halle are involved in nearly every aspect of their artistry from vocal production to art direction; their autonomy and audacity to experiment have allowed them to create such a masterful piece of art.
On the topic of vocal production. Chloe x Halle have a sense of harmony and melody that elevate them, and their music, above their peers. As evidenced by every track, especially “Grown” and “Happy Without Me,” Chloe x Halle deliver their harmonies so effortlessly they feel improvised. Although the production on the album (Malay Ho, Wynter Gordon, and Chloe x Halle, themselves) is exemplary, the duo’s complicated harmonies provide the backbone for the album. The girls’ timbres differ ever so slightly that they are able to blend their voices with ease while still maintaining their individual, ethereal qualities. Their vocal aesthetic is choral in nature, yet their voices are simultaneously personal and universal. That being said, Chloe x Halle’s lyricism has a lot of room left for improvement, but album standout, “Babybird,” proves they are capable of breathing new life into clichéd metaphors and making them their own.
Chloe x Halle could have easily been corrupted and co-opted by record labels and executives that could not care less about their artistry, but their decision to remain steadfast in their craft led to the creation of an album as bewitching as The Kids Are Alright. The girls also released a short film to accompany the release of their album. The film is absolutely stunning and clearly draws influence from Frank Ocean (“NIKES”), Barry Jenkins (Moonlight), Beyoncé (“Haunted,” Lemonade), and Florence + the Machine (“The Odyssey”). The short film is evidence that Chloe x Halle are true audiovisual artists and young visionaries. In the film, their attention to costuming, camera angles, and color palettes precisely conveyed every texture and layer of their album.
The themes of growth, self-love, control, and empowerment clearly permeate this record, and Chloe x Halle have set the bar for debut albums at a new high. These girls are the perfect representation of Generation Z, as is this album. Despite the worries of our parents and elders, the kids truly are alright.
Key Tracks: “Cool People,” “Happy Without Me,” “Everywhere,” “Babybird”