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The introduction of Chloe x Halle found the Los Angeles-bred sisters thriving in two mediums. Within three months of releasing their debut album The Kids Are Alright, the pair kicked off a recurring role on the hit TV-show Grown-ish. In the two years since, Chloe x Halle have lived most of their lives on the screen, with 2020 bringing forth the duo’s musical return as they touch down with their sophomore album, Ungodly Hour.
The campaign for Ungodly Hour began with their lead single, “Catch Up.” The Swae Lee-featuring track is laced with production, supplied by Mike Will Made-It, that lives in the summertime sun and the bustling commotion of backyard kickbacks. Contextually the song finds Chloe x Halle in a never-ending cycle of problems and dissatisfaction with their partner. Pointing fingers at one another and naming their faults, both parties threaten to exit the relationship despite knowing it’s all a bluff.
Weeks later the sisters returned with “Do It,” and with both singles, it was clear a shift in sound would be present on their sophomore album, complete with a few shoulder-shimmies and the occasional pop of the hip. With their eyes set on a girls’ — and girls-only — night out, Chloe x Halle flex their ability to indulge in a night of friendship. “He say, ‘Where you from?’ Tell ’em, ‘Outer space’,” they sing, flicking away any guys who attempt to ruin their plans for the night.
Confirming the assumption from the album’s pair of singles, Ungodly Hour finds Chloe x Halle peeling back their protective layer of innocence. In doing so, the true beauty of what resides under that layer is amplified by the spotlight that shines over them. The album’s title track presents an uptick in maturity and growth, one that finds them aware of the dangers that lie ahead in love. “I know you like to play those silly games / When you’re done, call my name,” they sing in unison on “Ungodly Hour.” The song ends their once naive approach to love, replacing it with the realization that blindly falling head over heels in love isn’t always a pleasurable fall.
Chloe x Halle continue their journey into uncharted territory on “Busy Boy.” Quickly embarking on the more intimate sides of love, they turn away a notorious player’s repeated attempts of getting inside their cookie jar as they’ve caught on to his scheme, singing “I spend a little time, don’t stay with you / You ain’t never gonna get deep inside.” Further down the album, Chloe x Halle battle temptations that look to ruin their current relationship on “Don’t Make It Hard On Me.” Putting their spin on the classic saying “you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone,” Chloe x Halle attempt to stop an old lover from disrupting their happiness and their new relationship. However, they soon realize that in their ex’s return, along with their improved behavior, has slowly revitalized feelings that were once gone. “I told you not to love me,” they beg, “and now you’re growing on me.” Taking advantage of feelings that linger like a smoke trail, the once-concluded relationship has been relit, igniting the return of old feelings.
Through all the growth and journeys into previously uncharted zones, Chloe x Halle maintain one common theme throughout the album: remaining unapologetic for one’s true self. Pushing forth an idea presented on the album’s intro — “Don’t ask for permission, ask for forgiveness” — Chloe x Halle do just that on “Forgive Me.” Proud of the women they see in the mirror, the duo shows no remorse in staying true to themselves while dispelling their partner who chose to be unfaithful. Instead, they deliver a well-deserved backhanded apology, asking forgiveness for being too good and unphased by the now-concluded relationship.
Calls for Chloe x Halle to shed a bit of innocence on their next body of work are answered on Ungodly Hour. The sisters, still in their early 20s, wrestle with new topics like sex, infidelity, mischievous men, and more. Thus, the diversity on Ungodly Hour widens, giving listeners more relatable and alluring content to indulge in. While doing this, Chloe x Halle also find perfection in natural flaws and untouched beauty, a theme they hint at on the album’s artwork. With bright and glowing wings attached to their black dresses, the sisters make it clear they find true happiness in their most unaltered state. The kids were once alright, but now they’re thriving as adults.
Ungodly Hour is out now via Parkwood and Columbia. Get it here.