Baby Queen: The Yearbook (Island/slowplay) | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Wednesday, September 27th, 2023  

Baby Queen

The Yearbook


Sep 21, 2021 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

Baby Queen is the pop alter ego of 23-year-old London-based musician Arabella (Bella) Latham. Aged just 18 she moved to London from her native South Africa to pursue music determined to make her mark. However adopting to a different pace of life in a big city wasn’t quite as straightforward as she’d hoped and after being sidetracked by the London party scene she refocused and Baby Queen was born. Her debut EP, Medicine, certainly generated a buzz last year (Courtney Love is a fan, for example). Indeed as part of Under the Radar’s tips for 2021 I wrote that Latham “tackles weighty subjects such as mental health, anxiety, body dysmorphia with more acerbic wit, intelligence and bite than most so-called ‘edgy’ artists have managed to muster in 2020.”

The Yearbook mixtape isn’t an EP nor is it her debut album but rather a snapshot of her progress so far and includes a collection of singles and new tracks Latham has written or released during the last year. Latham acknowledges that the Medicine EP was important in terms of establishing the parameters of Baby Queen’s world and feels that by tackling issues such has mental health she now has “the freedom to write love songs without someone thinking I’m vapid and shallow!” Throughout The Yearbook there are certainly love songs, albeit often of the doomed variety and Latham’s scathing wit and willingness to lay her emotions bare is still very much in evidence and lies at the core of the Baby Queen universe.

Previous single “Raw Thoughts” (one of the first songs written as Baby Queen) combines a euphoric pop melody with the anxiety and regret that comes with a post break up hangover, whilst the most recent release, the heartbreak-pop zinger “You Shaped Hole,” explores a similar theme. On it Latham juxtaposes strength and vulnerability—on the one hand she asserts a confidence in her ability to move on from an old flame, whilst at the same time she’s still smarting from the loss as she sings “I can do any fucking thing that I want to do/But there’s a hole inside of me and it’s shaped like you.

“American Dream,” featuring rising 19 year old Australian pop star MAY-A, has a vague whiff of Electra Heart-era Marina (and the Diamonds) and the collaboration came about after the pair exchanged DMs on Instagram.

“Narcissist” revisits a recurring theme as Baby Queen laments the need for validation whilst pointing our how the internet encourages and facilitates the obsession with curating a perfect image for the world. The irony of this being sung back by her fans at recent UK festival appearances won’t be lost on Latham.

The sublime “These Drugs” is perhaps the most melodically “Swiftian” track, replete with lyrics that are bruisingly honest. Lathum confronts her own mental health and is acutely aware of the danger of falling down the rabbit hole of “self-medication” as she sings, “It’s a band-aid on a broken arm/A siren sounding out alarm/A fucked-up version of self-harm/And it’s louder than a cry for help/When I destroy my mental health/Because I don’t respect me.” It’s brilliantly done and there aren’t too many emerging artists currently in the pops sphere who could pull this off so effectively.

The Yearbook finishes with the dazzling “I’m a Mess” and sees Latham deliver a soaring emotionally charged vocal via the track’s chorus. The semi-spoken verses also contain laser-sharp insights laced with black humor such as “Cos when I try to drown my sorrows, the fuckers learn to breathe…underwater.” It’s one of her finest songs to date and certainly whets the appetite for Baby Queen’s debut album, with The Yearbook signalling the end of one chapter whilst a new era is about to begin. With sold-out shows in London and high profile support slots lined up it seems her coronation won’t be too far off. (

Author rating: 8/10

Rate this album
Average reader rating: 7/10


Submit your comment

Name Required

Email Required, will not be published


Remember my personal information
Notify me of follow-up comments?

Please enter the word you see in the image below:

There are no comments for this entry yet.