Welcome to Camila Cabello’s ‘Familia’ – buckle up, it’s a bumpy ride

Photo credit: Walt Disney Television

We’ve definitely joined “la familia” because Camila Cabello spilled all the tea, whether we wanted it or not.

Cabello released her third studio album “Familia” on April 8, and while Shawmila stans finally got the closure they so desperately sought, the album itself fell short of expectations. The lyrics were generally overly expository, and I, the listener, felt like an awkward third party in the middle of Cabello and Shawn Mendes’s 2021 breakup.

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Although neither Cabello nor Mendes are technically millennials, “Boys Don’t Cry” narrated a painfully millennial exchange between two ultra famous but totally down to earth musicians. How much more uncomfortable could it get?

Cabello also included contemporary references like her mention of Facetime in “Boys Don’t Cry” and the line, “Tryin’ to get connected, no wifi” in “psychofreak.” These phrases – and even allusions to her split with Mendes – will undoubtedly stymy the longevity of the songs. The lyrics won’t be poignant twenty, ten, maybe even five years from now, so unfortunately, it looks like “Familia” will have a short shelf life.

Speaking of “psychofreak,” this track was yet another example of an almost-millennial unsuccessfully trying to prove that she’s Gen Z. “Maybe I’m an alien, Earth is hard?” Really, Camila? One positive attribute to this song, however, was WILLOW’s masterful passaggio and rich vibrato featured in the chorus.

Moving right along, “Bam Bam” featuring Ed Sheeran also missed the mark. In the verses, the chord progression did not align with the melody, leaving the track fragmented and incomplete. Cabello attempted Sheeran’s music style but it simply didn’t work. The chorus was okay, but the song felt like a first draft at best.

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Cabello utilized her own style throughout the rest of “Familia,” but especially on the sixth track “Quiet,” whose pre-chorus instantly sends listeners back to her 2018 hit single “Never Be the Same.” At least she’s consistent.

Okay, I’m done being mean because despite these criticisms, there were a few standout tracks that redeemed “Familia.” The driving guitar and horns, rapid tempo, and insistent background vocals underscored an intense fight in “La Buena Vida.” Although the lyrics are almost too detailed (like in several other tracks on the 12-song LP) this song could definitely play over a telenovela fight scene. The music is so entertaining I don’t even mind the excruciating lyrical detail.

The former Fifth Harmony star’s single “Don’t Go Yet,” which was released in July, 2021, was another highlight. I loved the song last year and I love it now. The track felt like Carnival, and the massive choir in the chorus extended an open invitation to sing and dance along.

The Cuban-American singer detailed the struggles of a bright young Cuban woman who can’t escape poverty in the penultimate track “Lola.” The song, which integrated both Spanish and English lyrics, told an incredibly moving tale of Lola’s poverty and her silence, which nearly brought me to tears.

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Finally, the best track on the album: “Celia.” This song recounted a fun, passionate relationship in Miami (presumably with Mendes), and accentuated Cabello’s sass and sense of adventure. The lyrics also highlighted the singer’s Cuban roots with words like “facinao” and “embobao” which utilize the Cuban-Spanish spelling. Although a barely noticeable detail, this use of language subtly paid homage to her heritage while simultaneously enhancing the song.

Overall, “Familia” is a mixed bag. Some tracks wow while others… do not. So, if you’re a diehard Camilizer, you’re sure to love it. Everyone else, well, proceed with caution.

Featured image courtesy of Walt Disney Television via Creative Commons.