Tate McRae’s sophomore album has been long anticipated since the release of her breakout single, “greedy.” Despite its September release, the song has been the highest-ranking hit throughout her career, hitting the number one spot of Billboard’s Global 200 last week.

McRae then released the album’s second single, “exes,” in November. Both singles gave her audience insight as to what the upcoming album would focus on. 

The long-awaited release of her sophomore album, think later, on Friday revealed a perfect combination of melancholic ballads and upbeat pop songs.

Although think later is thematically consistent with McRae’s first album, i used to think i could fly, with a focus on heartbreak, her sophomore album has a much more experimental sound. She borders along the lines of pop and hip-hop, while her lyricism is brutally honest.

McRae balanced these influences well with a variety of different styles that allow her to reflect on the many stages of a break up. While tracks such as “greedy,” “exes” and the opening song “cut my hair” are exactly the moody, yet confident sound you’d expect from the artist, others unexpectedly dug deeper. 

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“Grave” was a slight shock five songs into a seemingly fun, revenge-pop album, with lyrics such as “You can only dig the grave so deep / Before you start to take me down with you.”

McRae’s debut album featured many big name writers such as Finneas O’Connell, Charlie Puth and Alexander 23. It would be easy to assume that with a list of well-known artists as contributors, McRae’s first album would’ve inevitably been successful. 

The pitfall of i used to think i could fly, however, is that it sounds like the songs all came from different writers, with McRae getting lost on her own album. Her second album featured a more consistent line-up of contributing writers such as Amy Allen, Ryan Tedder, Jasper Harris and Grant Boutin, alongside McRae

Possibly the best thing about this album is that it sounds more personal to McRae, both in style and lyricism. The singer even acknowledged this in a recent Billboard interview, saying think later is the first project which feels like completely her own vision

“We’re not alike” discusses the betrayal of a friend deciding to date an ex as she sings “I could never do it once and she did it twice / And you wonder why / Yeah, you wonder why we’re not alike.”

One of my favorites, “plastic palm trees” is the perfect finale to an album riddled with anger, heartache and revenge.

McRae sings, “Thought that it was real, thought that it was worth it / Out the window, everything was lookin’ perfect / Caught in a dream / It’s not what it seems.” 

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Through these lyrics, McRae reflects on her journey from her hometown to becoming a public figure. She creates a clear picture of the differences between her past and present, using the concept of looking at plastic palm trees to demonstrate that some of the glamor in becoming a well-known artist is over exaggerated. 

Through her second album, McRae establishes a distinct sound that she didn’t quite get across in her first. With a strong narrative focus and a style that is truly her own, think later solidified McRae as an upcoming artist to look out for.