FLETCHER’s debut studio album Girl Of My Dreams is the culmination of everything Cari Fletcher’s career has promised to deliver on. Executive produced by Malay (who’s previously worked with Lorde), her captivating debut pulls from her darkest feelings and desires, delicately crafting them into a body of work which transforms how one can approach the themes of trauma, loss, and growth within the pop landscape – forever.
From her 2020 EP The S(ex) Tapes to a string of promotional songs for the screen Promising Young Woman and Love, Victor, FLETCHER has spent the past few years gaining rapid recognition for her bona fide song-writing and explicit lyrics about her past relationships. She quickly stood out from others in her field, refusing to shy away from baring her soul for the entire world to see. As part of the LGBTQ+ community, her approach to queerness has earned her a following before she’d even released her debut album. Her star power landed her the role of supporting act for Niall Horan’s 2020 tour, before the pandemic interfered. But despite any fallbacks, pandemics or a rough breakup, Girl Of My Dreams is the album FLETCHER was destined to create for herself.
The album opener ‘Sting’ begins with an angelic choir faintly heard behind FLETCHER’s soft voice, vocalising into the album’s opening lyrics: “XO, do you ever miss me? You chose brand new over history.” The love, loss, and reminiscence over her past relationship with now ex-girlfriend, Shannon Beveridge, is the first of the album’s two central themes. The production throughout the first chorus is stripped-down and heavy on bass which hits heavy with vulnerability. Overall, the song is an atmospheric and moody electro-pop ballad which sets the tone for the rest of the album.
“Here we go again,” FLETCHER whispers to those of us who know exactly what she’s getting at. ‘Guess We Lied’, a reworking of her 2019 chart-climber ‘If You’re Gonna Lie’ from her debut EP you ruined new york city for me, sees FLETCHER spin the original song’s lyrics on its head, coming to an honest conclusion that with time, people do indeed change. Just as FLETCHER reflects that she wasn’t in the healthiest place and felt disrespected, she grows nostalgic for old times’ sake on ‘Birthday Girl’. Apparently about Beveridge and her sharing the same birthday, the song wonders: “birthday girl, do you think of me? Do you wish you didn’t, but you have to? Like I have to.”
Once again, the mood quickly shifts with the album’s second single, ‘Becky’s So Hot’. Said to have been possibly written about her ex’s current girlfriend, after accidentally liking one of her pictures on Instagram, the song sees FLETCHER lusting after the new girl in her past lover’s vintage t-shirt (the one she used to wear). Comparison is said to be the thief of joy — yet this track does something new, with FLETCHER turning what should be humiliation into something carnal yet liberating. ‘Better Version’ speaks on how new partners can sometimes get the better version of an ex – someone you expended your energy on helping fix, for what seems like nothing in return, only to realise in time that you’ve grown into your better self too. FLETCHER yearns “you loved me at my worst, and you fixed my heart, but the thing that hurts is now some other person is gonna get the better version,” as the acoustic guitar softens the pain in her voice.
‘Conversations’ is notably one of the more rock-heavy tracks from the album, in which FLETCHER pens the different feelings and thoughts she’s experiencing during a bout of insomnia because past conversations are keeping her up, driving her mind wild. The track is highly relatable because the lyrics are vague enough to be applicable to any situation. Followed by ‘Serial Heartbreaker’, FLETCHER acknowledges what she views to be her imperfections. A dark and moody synth-pop banger, the song’s racing lyrics about how she views herself make it feel as though we’re looking into FLETCHER’s diary where she hides her deepest feelings.
In a TikTok comment, FLETCHER mentioned that the album’s lead single ‘Her Body Is Bible’ is “me reclaiming / redefining what I was told I would go to hell for.” An electrifying and euphoric song, it perfectly encapsulates the entire album’s sensuality and queer themes – that through all the internalised and externally inflicted shame comes the eventual acceptance of who you’re meant to be and who you’re meant to love. ‘I Think I’m Growing?’ follows, and is the shortest song on the album. It shows a thematic shift for the latter part of the album and is a reflection on her self-described co-dependency and trauma. FLETCHER recognises that even though moving through these emotions hurts, she now realises that she’s growing from them.
The album’s titular track ‘Girl Of My Dreams’ is the heart of the entire album, with FLETCHER singing “I’ve got a new rebound, I’m falling for me now”, recounting the different past lovers she’s experienced and how through losing them, she’s come to realise she’s the only girl of her dreams. The lush, atmospheric production makes FLETCHER’s soothing voice feel like a warm hug for anyone in the process of healing. ‘Holiday’ follows with a groove and sultriness that feels reminiscent of the Summer sun on a blissful afternoon. FLETCHER softly sings “I’m learnin’ lessons, not missin’ exes or stressin’, acceptin’ nothin’ less,” as she further details what could be both a literal and mental holiday in which she’s able to seek solitude.
Written after attending a self-help programme, ‘I Love You, Bitch’ sees FLETCHER being brutally honest and open with how she sometimes views her past behaviours. When asked to look into a mirror as an exercise, she said “I’m like ‘I love you, bitch. You are that bitch and I love you’” – thus reclaiming a derogatory word for a woman and her inner peace too. “I’ll raise a glass while I toast to myself, I’m a bad bitch and nothin’ can scare me, this one’s for Cari,” she serenades to herself and nobody else on the album’s stripped-back closer, ‘For Cari’. This finale sees her reaching a point where the pain finally stops hurting so much; where the freedom of being able to accept herself overrides any past exit wounds.
Girl Of My Dreams is one of the boldest and most vulnerable debut albums to release so far this year. With its sparkly synth-pop production and honest lyricism, the album doesn’t feel that of a debut because it’s so well-crafted. This early into her career, FLETCHER has already proven herself to be a queer icon by exposing her relationship flaws and insecurities for the sake of her art and helping others similar to her. Although nobody wants Cari to hurt, we now know she will be the one to go to when we need a dose of honesty or a wakeup call to love ourselves.