TFword Review: FLETCHER’s Debut Album ‘Girl of My Dreams’

It’s been six years in the waiting for FLETCHER’s debut album, and now it’s finally here! Titled ‘Girl Of My Dreams‘, the 13-tracked album was released on September 16 via Capitol Records. 

Cari Elise Fletcher, known mononymously as FLETCHER, took the internet by storm upon the release of her debut EP in 2016, ‘Finding Fletcher‘, and the lead single from it, ‘Wasted Youth‘. Her sumptuous songwriting and vocals, along with Wasted Youth’s music video, laid the foundation for Fletcher’s entry into the realm of LGBTQ+ pop music back then.

Working on her lore of “singing sad girl songs,” Fletcher is gutsy in terms of her lyricism. She is not one to shy away from tethering to the themes of her musical escapades—complete and utter transparency in portraying her heartbreak. 

In ‘Girl of My Dreams’, she takes it to the next level by name-dropping her ex’s current girlfriend in “Becky’s So Hot.” The incident sparked an upheaval in the world of sapphic drama, but that doesn’t exclude the song’s mighty potential of being a snazzy pop banger. Over the course of her career, Fletcher can be seen exploring and embracing her sexuality through her songs, while masterfully managing to release hit after hit. 

Her most notable works have come out in the past three years, with ‘The S(ex) Tapes‘ in 2021 and ‘you ruined new york city for me’ in 2019. In comparison to the ‘Finding Fletcher’ EP, the latter two help gauge the evolution of Fletcher’s story-telling skills and simultaneously establish her prowess as a vocalist. 

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you ruined new york city for me‘, her second EP, contained Fletcher’s breakthrough single ‘Undrunk‘. She released ‘Forever’ and ‘One Too Many’ riding on her newfound mainstream success, all of which explored one of her romantic rifts. Her next single, ‘Bitter‘, from the ‘The S(ex) Tapes’ era, was the onset of Fletcher’s next relationship ending with a filmmaker/YouTube content creator, who happens to be the muse for ‘Girl Of My Dreams.’

‘Becky’s So Hot’ marks the first official single from the ‘Girl Of My Dreams,’ released alongside a jaw-dropping music video starring Fletcher and Bella Thorne. She also rolled out ‘Sting,’ ‘Her Body Is Bible,’ and the penultimate pre-release track, ‘Better Version,’ prior to the actual release. Judging by the album title, it seemed as if Fletcher would chronicle her romantic estrangements, followed by what she sought in the girl of her dreams. However, the album’s interlude track, ‘I Think I’m Growing?’ steers focus in a different direction. The latter half of the album is an ode to Fletcher herself.

Track 1 to 8: For Her Former Lovers

‘Girl Of My Dreams’ kicks off with Fletcher encapsulating all of her post-break-up musings with her former partner in ‘Sting’. 
Don’t you wish I was your girlfriend still? //
Don’t you wish it worked out and we were on again? //
Honestly, all I wanna know, why does it sting?

The somber approach of ‘Sting’ elevates the need to have her questions answered, her desire to know why ‘she’s still hung up’ while her ex moves on, before winding up by saying, ‘But maybe I like the way it sting / It’s all I got left of you and me’. The entire track has an energetically melancholic treatment, with swells and drops in its percussion and instrumentation that work perfectly against the energy in Fletcher’s voice.

Track 2 is a partially reprised version of Fletcher’s previous hit ‘If You’re Gonna Lie’ from ‘you ruined new york city for me’. ‘Guess We Lied…‘ dons a mature approach as opposed to ‘If You’re Gonna Lie’. The twist in the electro-pop, rock-inspired track’s lyrics can be seen as the singer’s growth when it comes to coping with her relationships falling apart, still keeping the melody of the older track intact. 

Just as the listeners work themselves to a fever pitch with the perfect commingling of two tracks in ‘Guess We Lied…’, we get ‘Birthday Girl‘ – the first ballad of the album. The track reigns the energy in, instead delivering melodic guitar runs and spotlighting Fletcher’s abilities with softer treatments. Fletcher initially released an acoustic live snippet of the track earlier this year in March on her birthday, which she shares with her ex. ‘Birthday Girl’ leaves an indelible mark as she dwells on their shared birthdays – 

Birthday girl, do you think of me?
Do you wish you didn’t, but you have to?
Like I have to…

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While the previous three tracks focused on her ex, this one finds Fletcher lusting after her ex’s partner – Becky. She explained the track in an interview, saying, “I was in the studio and I was stalking my ex-girlfriend’s new girlfriend on Instagram. I saw a picture of her wearing an old vintage T-shirt of my ex’s, and it’s one that I’ve worn before as well. I’m looking at the photo and I’m like, ‘Damnit, she’s so hot.’ And I accidentally liked the picture, like, full-on rookie stalker.” ‘Becky’s So Hot’ is another one of Fletcher’s high-energy belters, and in true fashion, doesn’t come packing all that sweet a lesson.

It doesn’t help that the next song on the album is ‘Better Version‘. Albeit empowering, it paints the gut-wrenching reality of someone else getting the ‘better version’ of us and our estranged partner after the breakup. The track was released a week before the album was out and happens to be one of Fletcher’s favorite songs she has written to date. With pulsing, muted synths and tasteful overlays of guitar strumming against chorused backing vocals, the track slightly inclines toward Fletcher’s acceptance of the relationship’s end, far from denial and on the path of being okay with who she is. These themes linger in ‘Conversations‘ and ‘Serial Heartbreaker’. 

The daunting lull between the end of one relationship until you eventually date someone else summarizes ‘Conversations,’ a low-down syncopated pulser. She takes it a step further in ‘Serial Heartbreaker’, which is already a fan favorite track, by detailing her contradictory behavior while being in a relationship. The first half of the album culminates with ‘Her Body Is Bible‘. It redefines Fletcher’s religious beliefs as she accepts her sexuality. Production on ‘Her Body Is Bible’ consists of Fletcher’s signature guitar-work against her vocal high-end, making for an earwormy auditory masterpiece.

Track 9 to 13: For Cari

‘I Think I’m Growing?’ unfolds the album’s second half, which focuses on self-love and self-healing. The interlude breaks down Fletcher’s contemplation – her codependency in relationships, insecurities, and struggles of being confined in a closet, and concludes her thought process with the question – I think I’m growing? 

Continuing the theme of self-love is the titular track, ‘Girl Of My Dreams’. With straightforward lyrics and soulful harmonies led by the singer’s vocals portraying raw emotions, the track is a complete tearjerker. 
Now I lay me down to sleep
I pray that I’m the one I’ll keep
If I fall before I wake
I know that I will catch me

It took multiple relationships of unwavering fervor for Fletcher to realize she is, in fact, the girl of her dreams. The newfound self-acceptance leads the album to ‘Holiday‘. Away from the cusps of people’s scrutiny, she croons about being on a holiday inside her mind ‘unlocking a brand new perspective, direction, learning lessons, not missing exes or stressing, and accepting nothing less.’

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The penultimate track, ‘I Love You, Bitch‘ spawns from therapy. It has her recounting her vices, being baffled at the reality of loving everyone but herself, and breaking her patterns. And while she exercises the practice of self-love, comes the final and most personal track of ‘Girl Of My Dreams’. After heartbreaks, dejections, contempt, scorn, and a lifetime of not loving herself, Fletcher finally accepts that “she’s a bad bitch and nothing can stop her.” Backed by an acoustic guitar, her rich voice imparts the motive of the song in a heartfelt manner. ‘For Cari’ is the perfect track to conclude the album as it nears the destination of Fletcher’s journey of self-acceptance.

And I pleased everybody
So this one’s for me.

‘Girl Of My Dreams’ is a definite step above Fletcher’s previous releases, evident with gutsier vocal delivery and a relatively raw production approach. All-in-all, the album is stage-ready, and is paced accordingly. Expect to go from Fletcher’s sad girl era to a realm of new growth, experienced alongside the artist. Fletcher’s ‘Girl Of My Dreams’ is an honest, jarring delivery amongst her body of work, ushering in praise from critics and listeners, and setting a new high for Fletcher’s musical gold standard.

Listen to ‘Girl Of My Dreams’ HERE

Find FLETCHER on: Instagram | Twitter | Youtube

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