It’s become a popular claim to insist that “R&B no longer exists;” however, those who believe that just aren’t listening. Period. Not only does R&B live on, but there’s an exceptional pool of talent in the genre; and sisters Chloe and Halle Bailey (known professionally as Chloe x Halle) are a duo not to be overlooked.
Getting their start as children and going on to be recruited to Parkwood Entertainment by Beyonce herself, the songbirds boast the very sound that modern R&B naysayers claim has gone by the wayside in their latest release, Ungodly Hour. Their polished vocals are full with seamless harmonies; reminiscent of girl groups of the nineties and early aughts while still bringing something new and refreshing to current-day R&B. The experimental, individualistic spin they take on their music is precisely how this pair pulls off a sound that’s so rich, it’d be easy to assume it’s more than two people at the helm.
To put it simply, Ungodly Hour is a ride.
From start to finish, it moves from Point A-to-Z; hitting the peaks and valleys of life, love, and lessons learned along the way. At 21 and 20, the pair melodiously chronicles experiences many have gone through as young adults (and maybe not-so-young adults); not shying away from the confusion and questionable choices that arise. In an interview with Teen Vogue, Chloe says the name of the album and title track just “stuck”. “I forgot what I was watching, but I heard the phrase ‘ungodly hour’ and wrote it in my notes,” she states. “…we were like, ‘What can you say with this?’ We all came up with this sentence: ‘Love me at the ungodly hour,’ which means love me when I’m at my worst; love me when I’m not all dolled up and made up. Love me when all my insecurities are out on the table.”
“Do It,” the embodiment of black girl joy on a night out with friends, took off as a TikTok dance trend soon after its release in May 2020. “We just love the energy of that record. It feels so lighthearted and fun but simple and complex at the same time. We worked with Victoria Monét and Scott Storch on this one, and when we were creating it, we were just vibing out and feeling good,” said Chloe to Apple Music. “Our intention whenever we create is never to make that hit song or that single, because whenever you kind of go into that mindset, that’s when you kind of stifle your creativity, and there’s really nowhere to go. So we were just all having fun and vibing out, and we were just going to throw whatever to the wall and see what sticks.”
In addition to “Ungodly Hour,” other standout tracks include “Tipsy,” a dangerous post-night-out whirlwind; “Baby Girl,” the resident empowerment song for when we need to remember who the f*ck we are; “Busy Boy,” a fun and catchy tune on the trying temptation of a disloyal (potential) lover; “Don’t Make It Harder on Me” with its old school Motown vibe; and “Lonely,” a pick-me-up for anyone feeling defeated, sung beautifully by the pair.
“This song [Lonely] is so very important to us. We did this with Scott Storch and it ended up just kind of writing itself” said Halle to Apple Music. “I think one friend that we had in particular was kind of going through something in their life… We were also feeling just stuck in a way, and we wanted to write something that would uplift whoever it was out there who felt the same way we did, whether it was just being lonely and knowing that it’s okay to be alone. And when you are alone, owning how beautiful you are and knowing it’s okay to be by yourself.” She continues, “At the end of the day, you are a beautiful soul inside and out, and as long as you’re okay with loving yourself wholeheartedly, then you can be whoever you want to be, and you can thrive.”
Along with the June 12th release of Ungodly Hour came the music video for “Forgive Me”. Unapologetically hard-hitting, the song is an ownership of power and self-worth; and its visuals show the strength in message behind it. Come correct and don’t get burned.
By closing the album out with “ROYL” (meaning “rest of your life”), Chloe x Halle provide a youthful anthem and a reminder to look forward to days to come despite any missteps along the way. The song could also act as a light nod to the sounds of their first studio project, The Kids Are Alright.
As the sisters explore maturity, sexuality, and responsibility — or the lack thereof — through situations they’ve experienced first-hand and those they’ve only imagined (as in “Wonder What She Thinks of Me”); their growth both as artists and women is illustrated fiercely in Ungodly Hour. It’s a triumphant return for the talented duo, and no matter what the response may be from newspaper critics, they’ve solidly said their piece: Imperfections don’t make or break us. We’re here as we are, writing the story we want to tell.
Cover Image: Chloe x Halle (Parkwood Entertainment)