Havana catapulted former Fifth Harmony singer Camila Cabello to global stardom in 2017, topping charts in several countries, but her debut album, Camila, didn’t quite live up the promise of her early singles. Nearly two years on, and the 22-year-old is back with Romance, a much stronger record which shows how much she’s grown as a songwriter and singer.
Sure, at times she’s still gunning for that Latin-pop vibe which was so prevalent on Camila, but here it comes across far more convincingly – the seemingly basic chord progression of Cry For Me snowballs into an infectious banger as her elastic vocal range beams, “I want you to cry for me/Say you’d die for me/And if you can’t, then baby, lie for me.” Shawn Mendes duet Senorita is equally smooth, as their voices meld perfectly to form one of the biggest tracks of the year.
But Romance really comes into its own when Cabello breaks ranks from her usual style. Shameless has a more overcast tone, musically speaking, but it’s a bold opener, the melodies varied and hugely pop-centric. Liar is equally solid, as horn interplay and a colourful reggae bop shift the chorus from the wallowing synth-bass loops.
Bad Kind Of Butterflies, Easy and Dream Of You are perhaps the biggest surprises, with a much more sombre, reflective downbeat approach that, at times, recalls Lorde’s Melodrama, with their immense tenderness that makes them the perfect companion for these long winter nights.
It’s by no means perfect, but Romance is sure to be an album that many people will truly love.