In a time when Taylor Swift is in the midst of re-releasing her entire catalogue, nostalgia is reigning supreme. Millennials long for the days of screaming “Love Story” with the windows down on the way to soccer practice or crying into their diary to “You Belong With Me.” Let’s face it, high school sucks, but it’s looking a lot better than most of our current situations. Toronto-based duo Babygirl harnesses that same raw Y2K teen pop magic on their debut EP, Losers Weepers.
Kiki Frances and Cameron Breithaupt bring combined influences of Hillary Duff, blink-182, Kelly Clarkson and Alvvays to create self-aware underdog pop for the angsty adolescent in all of us; although their melodies are soaked in nostalgia, their lyrics contain a contemporary exhaustion that feels all too familiar. “Nevermind” encapsulates the residual saltiness that comes with the aftermath of a one-sided relationship. Frances sings, “Thought we were both in the deep-end/But you’re only in town for the weekend,” capturing the non-committal aura surrounding most people in their 20’s. The sun-drenched chorus feels like the sonic child of Sheryl Crow and Avril Lavigne, reminding the listener not to take anyone or anything too serious. “We made an effort to offset some of the bummer lyrics by making the productions playful and sweet, almost hopeful. We always want to make it feel bittersweet,” says the pair.
While most of the songs hover around the context of love lost or found, “Million Dollar Bed” also incorporates a reflection on the futility of chasing money or fame in search of happiness. The lyrics paint a picture of a heartbroken soul replacing love with possessions: “Chasing a daydream to forget we ever happened/Pretty distractions/I’ll be happy when I have them.” This is a deeply relatable sentiment for someone (me) who has turned to online shopping as a coping mechanism during the pandemic, hoping the next box will be the one to restore peace and balance in life.
There is not a line on this record that isn’t perfectly crafted to stick to your brain like that awkward thing you said in 2007. It makes sense, then, that Frances and Breithaupt met in music school and bonded over their obsession with making top 40 music. “We had similar tastes when it came to pop music and that made us want to try working together,” says Frances. “We were just like, how do we write a hit song? You seem to care as much as me. Let’s figure it out,” adds Breithaupt. The band explains that they have to agree on every part of a song for it to make it out of demo-mode, which makes for a long and sometimes arduous writing process. But despite their calculated approach to writing, Babygirl’s songs don’t come off as try-hard or cringe, but more like a conversation you’d have with your best friend, or yourself.
In “Today Just Isn’t My Day,” Babygirl presents a familiar internal monologue — “I’m all out of steam/I’m all out of weed/Today just isn’t my day.” The song allows the listener to stew in self pity while reminding them not to stay there forever. Simple guitars, percussion bells and wells of strings keep the song from feeling too dark, like laying in bed all day in a sunny room. If the band’s organic arrangements set them apart from most modern popstar hopefuls, their intuitive melodies are what bring them back to center.
“One of the earliest physical copies of an album I remember having was a cassette of Backstreet Boys’ Millennium. That was definitely melodically really important for me,” says Breithaupt. The band recreates the accessible lyrics and melodies of late ’90s, early 2000s pop while leaving most of the melodrama behind. There’s something about hyper-cute lyrics sung in a nonchalant falsetto that just works, and Babygirl seems to get that. Although, their “dream band” would not be as low key: “Let’s just take Coldplay, make Lindsay Lohan the lead singer, have Ne-Yo write the songs, have Kanye executive produce them, and call it a day,” says Babygirl.