Mabel – About Last Night…

Polydor Records

Release Date: July 15th 2022

Reviewed by: Joshua Andre

Mabel– About Last Night… (Amazon mp3/iTunes)

Track Listing:

  1. About Last Night… (Intro)
  2. Animal
  3. Let Them Know
  4. Shy
  5. Definition
  6. Good Luck (feat. Jax Jones & Galantis)
  7. Take Your Name (Interlude)
  8. Let Love Go (feat. Lil Tecca)
  9. Overthinking (feat. 24kGoldn)
  10. Crying On The Dance Floor
  11. I Love Your Girl
  12. When The Party’s Over
  13. LOL
  14. I Wish (feat. Joel Corry)
  15. Deal Or No Deal
  16. Let Love Go (Acoustic) [Apple Music Edition]
  17. Toxic (Acoustic) [Apple Music Edition]
  18. Overthinking (Slow And Reverb) [Apple Music Edition]
  19. Crying On The Dance Floor (Calm String Version) [Apple Music Edition]

COVID-19 has really done a number on us all over the past few years. The virus that keeps on giving (in the worst way possible) has crippled us all as a people and has turned us all into apprehensive and nervous wrecks. We can’t even go outside for fear of catching this dreaded virus- and with this new strain of Omicron being more and more virulent; it seems as if the world is in for another bumpy winter (or summer if you live in the northern hemisphere). Though, if COVID-19 has done anything ‘good’ the past few years, then it has to be introducing us all to more and more inspirational music. From artists that we all know and love, to newer artists just starting out; music is being consumed now more than ever- for nostalgia and sentimental reasons, or just to hang onto some semblance of normalcy and some semblance of finding a new artist and finding something magical and special. One such artist that I have found to be impacting and moving, providing me with a soundtrack to dance and move to, even in the midst of trials and tribulations, is up and coming English/Swedish pop star Mabel.

It was always a very vibrant, colourful household. There were always 12, 15 people living in our house all at one time. Sugababes were around a lot, the original trio. My dad always says I was their A&R. They would play things [to me, and] I’d be like, ‘No, I prefer the other one’. They were a massive inspiration to me, as I remember thinking – and I still do – they were doing something really important and making a real stamp in music.

It was a lot [being in the spotlight]. The promo and the performing, you think ‘this is what you signed up to do’, but still, the magnitude and the pressure of all of it, it was a lot. The pressures of being an artist and being a female in the business, and the scrutiny that you go through with comments and with all those sorts of things definitely had me a few times thinking: ‘gosh I don’t whether I can actually handle it, whether it’s for me’ I didn’t really feel like I deserved a lot of it. I was grateful and these were the things I’d always wanted to happen. I don’t think I was really ready; nobody can really prepare you.

It’s crazy what fear does to your body and your voice and your face and all the things that are really important when you’re performing. I would go out there anticipating what people were going to say about me, and people would say it and I’d have to get up and perform again. I wasn’t going up there performing to the best of my ability as I was so scared all the time of what people were going to say and what people were going to think. And I completely lost my sense of self.

It got to the beginning of 2020 and I was like, ‘I’m not having fun, the biggest things are happening in my career right now and I’m not going out there representing myself fairly, because I’m so crushed. [With lockdown], I definitely got time to reflect on… if I wasn’t going to carry on anymore, it probably would have been then.

Born Mabel Alabama-Pearl McVey; the English/Swedish singer released her second album About Last Night… a couple of weeks ago. Truth be told, I hadn’t heard much of Mabel– in fact, not a single song. But her album was present on my Apple Music pre-order page on the app on my phone, and I was in the mood to find something new and so I thought ‘why not?’. I did some investigation, and because I knew that I resonated with other British pop artists like Little Mix, Ellie Goulding, Dua Lipa, Ella Henderson, and Anne-Marie; I decided to take the plunge and see with the 19 track album had to offer. And here’s my consensus. About Last Night… isn’t anything that seems to be deep and meaningful- there’s plenty of pop bangers and club tracks. So, some would say that it’s an album not meant to be taken seriously. In one way, that’s right, because I reckon this album isn’t supposed to be that deep and meaningful. Because you know how sometimes you’re in the mood for something reflective and introspective and at other times you want to let your hair down and party/or relax? Yep, this album is for that second occasion. Trust me, during the past couple of years, we all needed to party. Yet there’s still something about this project that tugs away bit by bit at our emotions and our psyche. About Last Night… is a pop/dance album, but there are still lyrical gems found throughout if you know where to look.

I think where I’ve struggled so much with my identity in a different way, it felt really important to me to create this house party [this pop album] that was about being who you are and being unapologetic about it and for anybody who’s ever struggled with this identity and their confidence.

I’m still undoing the damage of what I did to myself by looking at people’s comments. I don’t think we’re protected as young people in the way we should be [by the industry] to be completely honest. You’re the one who has to stand up there and you’re the one who gets judged for it; and you’re the one who’s carrying the weight for it. I just think it’s a lot of responsibility to be putting on a young person.

Opening the track list with a powerful cinematic 30 second introduction; we are presented with the ‘proper’ opener in “Animal”. A powerful, no-holds-barred, uncompromising, and intense pop/dance 3-minute melody; Mabel eloquently details to us all her steadfastness, stubbornness, and her fierce tenacity. The song speaks about Mabel’s animalistic prowess in the bedroom; however lyrically I feel the concept of being confident and knowing who you are extends outside of the bedroom and the home- Mabel subtly speaks about being a ‘boss lady’ at work and being a major player in every aspect of your life. On the surface, this track seems to be a tad superficial; but a deeper listen reveals a thought-provoking theme, where Mabel inspires us to have confidence and a clear drive and passion in everything we do- and the resolve to get there by being the best and sometimes acting a bit savagely.

The rest of the album features plenty of pop melodies fit for the dance floor, while Mabel also introduces powerful lyrical moments that are unique and incredibly special. Lead single “Let Them Know”, a pure pop anthem, speaks about being unashamed, unapologetic and resolute about who you are as a person- the EDM banger details Mabel’s ethos on dancing the night away, and reminds us that we deserve to be happy and to feel loved and accepted in our own skin; while the hard-hitting and resolute piano led track “Shy” has Mabel powerfully and eloquently telling her man in no uncertain terms that he needn’t feel shy and that he can be a bit more assertive with her. A track that encourages and inspires us all to take more risks and to be more of a people person that we currently may be at the moment; Mabel also inspires us to face our fears and to remind ourselves that if we’re shy, the chances that everyone else is shy and are just trying to be brave is pretty high.

“Definition”, a sassy, saucy and feisty melody, dives deep into the concept of allowing people around us to see us all for the brilliant person that we are- we are the definition of brilliant and special and unique and one-of-a-kind; while “Good Luck” with Jax Jones and Galantis is the second single, and is a brutally savage takedown of men who can’t commit. As Mabel relays to us that girls should genuinely say ‘good luck’ to their ex in all of his future endeavours; this is a song whereby men need to look in the mirror and be grateful for all of the good things in their life (inclusive of their partners), and it’s also a song where Mabel talks herself up with semi-false confidence, knowing that her partner leaving her was a bad and big mistake on his part. The heartbreaking and emotional “Take Your Name” follows, and details a recent break-up where Mabel was ready to commit to someone who suddenly hurt her and broke up with her. The track is one of the saddest on the album, with Mabel opening her heart and baring her soul; while “Let Love Go” is again a melancholy and reflective melody lyrically (but musically it’s a 3 minute dance number)- Mabel concludes that she needs to let go of love for a season because she feels betrayed and exhausted.

“Overthinking”, with rapper 24kGoldn, delves into the concept of being up in your own head, and overthinking whether living for the moment and partying is actually the right thing to do in your life right now- is it because everyone else is partying and there’s peer pressure, or is it something that you actually want to do? “Overthinking” is a revealing and confronting melody, and it one of the standouts on this otherwise poppy and breezy project; while the refreshing and vibrant pop tune “Crying On The Dancefloor”, another personal highlight, has Mabel being there for a friend after their breakup, declaring that there won’t be any crying on the dancefloor, that the friend should dance the night away and know that they’re beautiful, special, valuable and worthy: This song is about me seeing my friend crying on the dance floor and saying to her, ‘No, we’re not going home yet, we’re going to have a really great time!’ It’s kind of cheesy, but I love that about it. I think there’s a moment on every album for cheese. Sometimes you can try to make things a little too clever lyrically, when it’s best just to tell it like it is. “I Love Your Girl”- a clear and profound melody with an overt message that will create discussion, is a powerful savage takedown of a cheating ex, and a poppy anthem that speaks about social media stalking. As Mabel declares and concludes that she admires (and possibly loves?) her ex’s new girl more than him, which in turn reminds the guy that Mabel has completely moved on; could this song also actually be Mabel announcing to the world that she isn’t as straight as we all thought?

“When The Party’s Over” (no, not the Billie Eilish song!) is a harrowing and sobering reflective ballad masked as a pop song, and is a vivid and possibly accurate description of party life when viewed through the lens of someone who is feeling tired of the party scene and has officially graduated from the party scene (Mabel passionately relays that she sometimes feels empty and numb at parties, and realises that they’re more superficial than she envisioned that they would be); while the passive-aggressive pop banger “LOL” speaks about an ex who now wants Mabel back as a girlfriend, but all Mabel can say is ‘lol’, because she realises that she feels nothing for him now. We all of that person in our lives who sometimes treats us horribly, but then soon goes back on their word and tries to act all loving and caring when they aren’t with us anymore; but what Mabel conveys in this track is that this guy had his chance, and now he’s blown it. It’s a harsh song, but this playful tune is a stark reality that sometimes some men can’t or won’t fully grasp or understand. “I Wish”, with DJ Joel Corry, is a track full of lamenting and regret, as Mabel concludes that she wishes she treated her ex with love, dignity and respect when they were together, while About Last Night… ends with hard-hitting pop melody “Deal Or No Deal”. It’s a confusing track and one that I don’t connect with at all; and to me this album would be much more cohesive with this melody left off the track list. Nonetheless, the Apple Music deluxe version of About Last Night… contains 4 extra songs (totalling 19 tracks!). While this to me is overkill; Mabel still dominates vocally on these tracks, with “Let Love Go (Acoustic)” having an extra solo verse, Mabel brilliantly singing on Britney Spears’ cover of “Toxic” and the acoustic version of “Crying On The Dance Floor” being a powerful and inspiring rendition of probably the most passionate and impacting track on the album.

Leigh-Anne Pinnock from Little Mix has been an amazing sister to me. I can just message her and be like, ‘Hey I’m feeling really lonely, or did you ever feel this, or what do you do when you get comments like this?’ And obviously she’s had it on a completely different level to me, but she just understands the experience of being a woman in the business.

With the way the industry is right now, as quickly as your success comes it can go, so I enjoy every performance and give 110 per cent. And every day – now that I’m personally in a better place – that I get to go up there and do it, I’m so happy.

Should you call me a Mabel fan? I haven’t listened to her first album yet, so maybe let’s hold off on the accusations yet, shall we? In all seriousness, Mabel tackles a lot in About Last Night…; so for those of you who want to bypass this album because it is on the surface quite juvenile- I’d say do so at your own peril. Mabel is an up-and-coming artist that probably should have been present in my influential artists list of 5-10 years’ time (or perhaps in honourable mentions); and as the year’s progress, she will in turn inspire us and encourage us all to be honest and authentic in everything we do. Musically this album may be too pop for my liking. But About Last Night… is an album that has grown on me; and it will resonate with you too if you give it time. Well done Mabel for an inspiring, impacting, and compelling project. I can’t wait to hear what’s next in store for you in the future!

4 songs to listen to: Good Luck, Crying On The Dance Floor, When The Party’s Over, LOL

Score: 4/5

RIYL: Ava Max, Ellie Goulding, Dua Lipa, Harry Styles, Ella Henderson, Sigrid, Zara Larsson

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