Since bursting onto the scene with “Here,” Alessia Cara has been one of the progenitors of 2010s moody pop-R&B. It was a time and a half when she first burst onto the scene, kind of like how the buzz around Billie Eilish was when she first dropped. The thing that made Cara different from Eilish is that her songs would also get played on contemporary R&B stations and among other urban contemporary tracks. She was unintentionally marketed as a moody crossover star and, for better or worse, that label has stuck with her since 2015. However, the way she handled the music is what kept me coming back whenever she dropped over the last six years.
In short, Cara did her thing by mixing somewhat happy sounding melodies with dark subject matter.
This has been her forte since the aforementioned 2015 FOMO/FOGO anthem. Her latest, “Sweet Dream,” continues this legacy and plays right into her singer/songwriter bread and butter.
If you listen to the instrumental or the melody, you’d think this is her attempt at a poppy song about wanting to drift away to Dreamland. It’s innocuous enough to get stuck in your head, even though she’s feeling trapped by the silence of being one of the few people awake and alone within her own thoughts. Once you listen to the lyrics, you see that she’s also struggling to deal with some relatively heavy things in real life and wants to escape them–except, she isn’t able to, despite her pleading for a reprieve.
If you wanted “Here 2021,” this ain’t it. In fact, this feels more along the lines of her most-recent full-length project The Pains of Growing. Although, since she’s older and wiser than she was on PoG, the approach is just as nuanced as it is obvious. It’s a solid reintroduction for Cara and her devoted fanbase. If you’re new to her, this is probably the best way to be introduced instead of trying to replay Know-It-All (even though that album is still a great one). Check out the track below and remember to support dope music in all its forms.