Crush on Me
Hanover’s renaissance bi Kelsie Hogue has shifted professional creative focus several times over, from theater to hardcore bubblegum music to comedy, and now, electropop with Sir Babygirl. While this career trajectory may imply a lack of focus that does occasionally show itself on her debut album Crush on Me in the self-indulgent reprisals and outro, for the six ‘main’ songs, her wealth of diverse artistic experiences inform each other to craft brilliant sing-into-your-hairdryer-in-front-of-the-mirror pop with captivating dramatic flair and playful self-deprecating humor.
Crush on Me sounds a lot like the soundtrack to an imagined ’90s teen movie, and as much as it recalls turn-of-the-century radio pop (Brittney Spears and Christina Aguilera are listed as influences), one gets the sense that records such as Liz Phair’s Exile in Guyville and Team Dresch’s Personal Best may have also played a role in forming the unapologetic DIY queer pop princess that is Sir Babygirl. Most of the songs’ lyrics involve Hogue poking fun at herself as a veiled expression of her hurt (a hangover from her work as a comedienne) and involve dating struggles, party anxiety, being a bad friend, and relationship difficulties in general. Vocally, she teeters back-and-forth between art pop and emo/pop punk: the rising, layered self-harmonies on “Heels” recall Coffman and Deradoorian on Bitte Orca, while songs such as “Everyone Is a Bad Friend” and “Pink Lite” bring to mind Hayley Williams of Paramore fame. The album as a whole is riddled with huge, emotional out-pours of breathy, belting angst and skittering, paranoid electronics, which feeds into the idea of Crush on Me being a conceptual anthology centered around feeling awkward and awful, but still finding a way to love yourself. “Heels”, “Flirting with Her”, “Cheerleader”, “Haunted House”, “Everyone Is a Bad Friend”, and “Pink Lite” make up an incredible set of tunes, each one overflowing with an abundance of personality and infectious melodies.
As great as the core material is, the reprisals of “Flirting with Her” and “Haunted House” disrupt what would otherwise be a steady stream of sticky bubblegum pop bangers. They’re interesting in the sense that they less reprise the songs themselves and more the themes associated with them, and they’re well-produced, but they also feel like padding within the context of such a brief album. Regarding the title-track outro: it’s an outro. It’s not nearly as irritating as the meme-like video version (there are only about ten seconds of dull trap beat, siren synths, and high-pitched, repetitive vocals before transforming into something far more likable, as opposed to the full track), and the message of self-love is nice, but it’s still rather under-cooked. These only make up about four minutes of Crush on Me though, and are nowhere near egregious enough to derail it.
Crush on Me isn’t spotless as is and knowing how close it would be as a six song EP is a bit frustrating, but what’s a compelling pop artist if not flawed and a bit frustrating? Sir Babygirl is assuredly compelling, at her best creating hyper-addictive, funny, and emotionally honest modern electropop that’s unlikely to be topped by anything in its lane this year, and she’s at her best far more often than not. If you want to make a theoretical stretch, you could even make the argument that Crush on Me’s diversionary reprises and outro are important in their own peculiar way. Considering the thematic through-line of not simply accepting, but loving your imperfections and reveling in being a bit of a hot mess, perhaps such seemingly unnecessary missteps are in fact very necessary in painting the portrait of Sir Babygirl. Whether you subscribe to that philosophy or not, it doesn’t seem to matter all that much when you’re in the midst of being enraptured by Hogue’s charm, wit, and affinity for a killer hook.
Not to project too much into the future, but if Hogue does decide to “ride out” her crush on the Sir Babygirl project instead of taking up Yu-Gi-Oh! or canoeing, big things are in store.
Favorite tracks: “Haunted House”, “Cheerleader”
Rating: Strongly Recommended
You can purchase Sir Babygirl’s Crush on Me here.