[ALBUM REVIEW] THINK LATER features dance hits that contrast McRae’s earlier work

(Screen capture from “Tate McRae - exes (Official Video)” by Tate McRae on YouTube.)
(Screen capture from “Tate McRae – exes (Official Video)” by Tate McRae on YouTube.)

TikTok is 20-year-old Tate McRae’s ammunition. Over the last few months, McRae topped the charts with singles “greedy” and “exes” in September and November which quickly gained traction on TikTok through viral dance trends.

McRae’s standalone hits include “One Day”, “Teenage Mind” and “you broke me first.” Her sophomore album “THINK LATER”, released Friday, boasts the artist’s confident and unapologetic persona through consistently upbeat and driven tracks. The 14 tracks contrast the bitter and mournful tone of “I Used to Think I Could Fly”, released May 2022, which consisted of primarily slow-paced and minor-keyed songs.

Track One: “cut my hair”

In the album’s opening song, McRae remembers an old relationship and fantasizes about an ex. “Just wanna show you whatever she do, I can do it better,” she sings. Her confident tone foreshadows the feel of many other tracks on THINK LATER.

Track Two: “greedy”

THINK LATER’s first single, “greedy” was first released Sept. 15. The driven pop beat and dancey feel have gained the song over 463 million streams on Spotify. McRae’s repeated “I would want myself,” make the song feel like a self-love anthem.

Track Three: “run for the hills”

“run for the hills” boasts McRae’s more artful lyricism in a slower-paced and reflective song. “Don't tease me / And keep me around like it's easy,” she says. Here, McRae reflects on the side effects of being infatuated with someone.

Track Four: “hurt my feelings”

Despite its groovy baseline, track four lacks depth in its storyline and lyrics. “Got me mеssed up dreamin’ / that your girlfriend’s lеavin',” McRae says, singing about falling for someone who is already in a relationship.

Track Five: “grave”

“Grave” is reminiscent of “I Used to Think I Could Fly” with its melancholy messaging. McRae affirms that you cannot always change someone. “I could never make you want me like I wanted to be wanted,” she sings.

Track Six: “stay done”

The chorus of “stay done” is one of the best off the album, but the lyrics lack dimension. The strumming guitar melody throughout the song give it a slightly different feel than its counterparts. “I just can’t stay done with you,” McRae repeats like a mantra at the end of the song.

Track Seven: “exes”

“Exes,” released Nov. 17, was the second single from THINK LATER. Fun and lighthearted, this track is an unapologetic assessment of McRae’s previous relationships. “Oh, I'm sorry, sorry that you love me / changed my mind up like it's oragami,” she sings.

Track Eight: “we’re not alike”

With traces of rock influence, “we’re not alike” explores betrayal in friendships through honest and vulnerable lyrics. “Said she was a girl's girl, that's a lie / Said she had my back but she had the knife,” stands out among the other lyrics.

Track Nine: “calgary”

“calgary” takes McRae’s listeners back to her roots: McRae’s hometown. The lyrics delve into themes of self doubt, uncertainty about the future, and feeling like a kid. “I thought that I was gettin' better / No, I got better at pretendin',” McRae says.

Track Ten: “messier”

With “messier”, McRae sings about a toxic relationship and two people not being able to avoid hurting each other. “We both know this happens every time, every time / You tell me a lie, I'll tell you five,” she sings. Despite some high moments, the production and songwriting don’t quite land with this song.

Track 11: “think later”

The album’s title track, “think later” shows off McRae’s style versatility. The song explores living in the moment, recklessness and having fun. “Live now, think later, I do it so well,” she sings.

Track 12: “guilty conscience”

Following in suit of the previous track, “guilty conscience” contains themes of making mistakes in order to have fun. “Kinda reckless lately / If that's wrong / Guess I'll live with a guilty conscience,” she says. The fast tempo and drums makes it dance worthy.

Track 13: “want that too”

An honest and reflective penultimate track, “want that too” features some of McRae’s more talented songwriting. “Takin' all the better parts of me is all you ever do,” she sings.”

Track 14: “plastic palm trees”

The final song of THINK LATER, “plasic palm trees” shows off more of McRae’s storytelling as she sings about achieving certain milestones that no longer feel significant. “Thought that it was real, thought that it was worth it, / out the window, everything was lookin' perfect,” she says.

Selective tracks from THINK LATER certainly deserve to be added to listeners’ playlists, but some fall short of the catchy sound that McRae’s better songs have to offer.

The album as a whole lacks the necessary cohesion and dimension to hold listeners attention the whole way through.

Rating: ★★★

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