Fletcher’s long awaited debut album Girl Of My Dreams is triumphant in its exploration of finding self-love in the aftermath of a devastating heartbreak. Throughout her discography, Fletcher has never shied away from her brutal honesty- representing a darker side of pop that is just absolutely epic when paired with her killer voice. With this being her debut album- every aspect that has worked so well in her past EP’s is amplified here, and did I mention that it’s like….. super gay? Need I say more?! Let’s get into the best of the best here!
Album opener “Sting” sets the tone perfectly- placing us directly in the wake of her breakup with her vulnerable lyrics and gorgeously emotive voice. Referencing several moments throughout her career from “All Love” on her second EP you ruined new york city for me to her third EP The S(EX) TAPES- the track compares the hurt to a sting as she wonders if it will simply always feel this way. The production is slick and perfectly crafted, allowing the track to continue to build until that vibey beat finally drops in the second verse. “Honestly, all I wanna know why does it sting? Why am I still hung up on things? Are you gonna give that diamond ring that’s meant for me to her? But maybe I like the way it sting, it’s all I got left of you and me, I’d rather it keep on cutting deeper, show what we’re worth,” Fletcher sings on the chorus, making me feel like shaking and crying in a way that only Cari Fletcher can succeed in doing.
Continuing the self-referential nature of the opener, the album’s followup track “Guess We Lied” is an absolute knockout- interpolating the chorus of Fletcher’s single “If You’re Gonna Lie” from you ruined new york city for me and giving it more of a rock edge to fit this edgier and more mature vision. As a longtime fan, I was shocked to hear the chorus of one of my favorite Fletcher songs sampled here but it works incredibly well- in a way that shows how time can change us and give us truth in hindsight. The original placed the blame directly on her ex, but this newer version allows Cari to accept some of the blame as well in lines like “I know we said forever but I guess we lied” there to destroy us emotionally. Now, my personal favorite lyric here comes from the start of the second verse- “Do you ever get the feeling, we’re a real deep cut that’s never healing, it’s fuckin’ me up but not in a good way”. Through connecting these newer songs to her past- the growth not only in her vocals but in herself as well serves to drive home the album’s overarching themes (more on this later).
“Birthday Girl” is another devastating moment on the album, written in the spiral of knowing that her ex- girlfriend shares the same birthday as her and being unable to escape the thought of her as she tries to celebrate her own day. As the album’s first stripped back track, “Birthday Girl” is a showcase to Fletcher’s incredible pen game- shattering my heart in simple sentences like “The night we met, we found out we were born on the same day, It was weird but kinda cute, And now it’s weird but fucking sucks, ‘Cause we broke up and I’m scared that it’ll never feel the same way. I hate that song without your name, and mine looks lonely on the cake“.
The heartbreak-tinged pop perfection continues through the middle of the album as we reach the singles that preceded its release like the chaotically petty “Becky’s So Hot” about her ex’s new girlfriend and “Better Version” which is about how the next person gets the so called “better version” of someone who moves on from a relationship. It’s here where the album takes a shift inward, abandoning the focus of past heartbreak and honing in on an exploration of self with the interlude called “I Think I’m Growing”. “I’ve had to get along and hang out with me instead, I saw all the parts I didn’t like, so insecure, so quick to fight, I didn’t know I was so co-dependent, I didn’t know I had so much resentment,” she sings on the opening verse of learning to be okay on her own for the first time in so long and discovering what she needs to work on in order to improve. The production is literal lesbian heaven- with Fletcher’s voice carrying us up through the rainbow gates with harmonies so tightly perfect, it has yet to resonate with me that they are actually real. So so so good.
Title track “Girl Of My Dreams” takes leaps forward towards self-preservation and love- proclaiming herself to be the only “girl of my dreams”- which honestly grasped my attention so firmly after incorrectly assuming that it would be a love song about another woman. “I’m all hers, and she’s all mine, I’ll love her ’til the day I die,” the New Jersey native isn’t claiming to be fixed or know the answer to what troubles her- but instead recognizes how she is the one who needs to stand tall and love herself unconditionally. There’s a sense of comfort in the lyrics, like a much-needed warm hug, to thank herself for being the one who has always gotten her through the toughest days. It’s a gorgeous statement and extremely worthy of representing the album as a whole.
Cari continues this look inward with “I Love You, Bitch” which is her learning to say that she loves herself after having said it much more easily towards her exes than she ever has to herself. “‘Cause I’ve said it, to everyone, everyone, everyone, everyone else, Like oh my God. And I’ve meant it, to everyone, everyone, everyone but myself, Like oh my God, So I’ve been looking in the mirror and I practice saying this: I love you, bitch,” the personality and charisma that Fletcher brings to every track truly shines here most of all- somehow escaping the pitfall that “self-love anthems” are often stigmatized for. The production is light and quite playful, a fun little song that perfectly blends to fit each moment- having taken influence from the pop punk resurgence in the chorus and the dream pop escapism of the verses and still allowing it time to breathe in order to continue building.
As we finally reach the album’s closing track “For Cari”, she offensively attacks our feelings as she dedicates this final note to Cari- the girl she is on the inside, the girl she has always been. It’s one thing to love and appreciate the singer that is Fletcher along with her writing and performing but to hear her talk so lovingly of Cari and take note of the growth felt throughout this experience, it resonates on absolutely every level. “‘So I’ll say ‘farewell’ to the hard times, and I’ll say “fuck you” to the bad vibes, and I’ll raise a glass while I toast to myself, I’m a bad bitch and nothin’ can scare me, This one’s for Cari,” the melodic structure and lyrics are so refreshing- they give me drunken night’s out with friends and toasting to the crowded bar kinds of vibes. It’s gorgeous and lots of fun- sealing off the album on the perfect note.
Overall, Fletcher absolutely crushed it while making this album. The years that have preceded this release have done an incredible job of setting us up for what was to come while also respectfully keeping an eye on her past. If there’s any justice in this world, Fletcher will become THE pop queen with the release of this album- serving vocals, beauty and an undercurrent of honesty throughout that prove her to be more fearless than any of her current peers.
Girl Of My Dreams is out now on all streaming platforms!