Words: Stephanie Dando
In their just released album, ‘The Kids Are Alright’, Chloe and Halle create an airy, wide open space with plenty of distant, dreamy synth and rich, lilting vocals where the sisters illustrate the full range of their vocal capacity. They fill that space with a broadcast of topics, from being thankful to cool people, to dressing as ratchet as you wanna, to dancing in the “blue [that] likes to drop sometimes”. Through it all, the Bailey sisters are unwaveringly harmonious and poetic, providing a compelling periscope into sweetness, strength, and dancing in storms.
Photo: Rene & Radka
In both 2016 and 2017, the contemporary R&B made it into the Rolling Stone’s ‘Best ‘R&B Album Of The Year’ list with the EP ‘Sugar Symphony’ and mixtape ‘The Two Of Us’ respectively. The Atlanta-hailing sisters, real names Chloe and Halle Bailey, first grabbed the attention of the mainstream world when they won Radio Disney’s Next Big Thing competition, and shortly after earned the attention of Beyonce with their rendition of ‘Pretty Hurts’ uploaded to YouTube.
The first thing to know about the Bailey sisters’ debut album is that it’s long. No joke. Eighteen tracks a pop and a total of 52 minutes listening time, this isn’t the sort of album you can idly skim on while tending to other things. Tracks like ‘Babybird’ and ‘Baptise – Interlude’ feature a subtle, melancholic delicacy that is only so when parsing in with the rest of the album. That said, the standalone tracks have an appealing listenable quality where Beyoncé’s influence on the duo can be felt with soaring, soulful vocals and mystical, ambient sounds that wouldn’t sound amiss on a cloud-rap record.
Photo: Daria Kobayashi Ritch
The titular song is an empowering, ambient ballad that functions as a reassurance to this generation, or perhaps the generation that came before about this generation; “do it while you’re young,” the sisters sing, “everything is new ‘cause we about that innovation”, a subtle commentary on the criticism aimed at millennials that all the things we enjoy are ‘trendified’; transient, with a fast, sharp peak and a quick decline. ‘Baby On A Plane’ paints interesting imagery of a, literal, baby on a plane as the sisters sing “cry for me…cry for us all, cry me away, all night long…” Whether the baby represents our own fears which we’re too afraid to vocalise, or is a metaphor for a generation uncared for, is up for debate.
Also in the album, the Bailey sisters go in hard on the meteorology lyrics. They speak about showering in glimmers of gold despite the falling blue around us, of lifting the ocean “just to see your eyes”. In ‘Babybird’, they sing “and the eagle big, but why fly with the ground when you can fly in the clouds? Other track highlights of the album include ‘Galaxy’ and ‘Warrior’.
Photo: Mathew Sprout
All in all, ‘The Kids Are Alright’ is a dreamy, soul-inspired creation that is impressively realised and shows a wonderful span of creative talent, from sound to word.
Words: Stephanie Dando