The tricky thing about music criticism, and really the medium of art criticism as a whole is that the loudest and more circulatory opinions are always those of White CIS men who haven’t enjoyed anything new since they took Ted Nugent off the air; men who have made it their life’s work to tear down a successful woman in music with little to no reasoning other than her lack of testosterone. Rest assured, however, that my intentions with this review are pure. I am reviewing this album with the utmost neutrality and professionalism, and basing all my opinions exclusively on merit and choices completely within the artist’s control. To that effect, THINK LATER is little more than repurposed pop garbage.
Tate McRae's sophomore album landed unpromptedly on streaming this past Friday, December 8th, and very quickly introduced itself as the musical equivlant of boiled chicken. THINK LATER is a record for people whose parents come to do laundry for them on weekends at their glorified high school of a university, just 30 minutes away from the basement where their nicotine dependence started. What Billie Eilish was to e-girls, Tate McRae is to college athletes who have, in their opinion, never been the problem in any of their failed situationships. It's manipulator music at its worst, chronicling completely the injurious benefits of unnecessarily averted blame, the incomparable feeling of successfully and irreversibly gaslighting an ex-lover, and how to best utilize the “I don't like other girls, I'm just one of the boys” mindset to attract a worse partner than your last, but never one worse than yourself.
THINK LATER is an almgamation of all the worst production tropes from "Song of the Summer" TikTok's and the inexperient abstraction of an Ed Sheeran/AJR writing credit, repackaged to look like RCA's god-given gift to watered down faux-pussy-power music made by uppity upper class white people for uppitier upper class white people. Over the course of the album's fourteen tracks, McRae brings very little to keep the listener interested, let alone challenge them, be it vocally or instrumentally, with little more to offer than an unengaging slew of synth presets, a few borrowed flows for the awkward Grande-esque hip-pop sections, and the obligatory colorless pop ballads that litter the LP. McRae perfers to fall in line and play into long-established pop melodies and themes, beating the dead horses that have all but defined the modern Billboard algorithm for empty, unimpactful success.
While McRae is just the latest in a long line of Caucasion culture vultures, she has become the poster child for stolen Grammy-nominated sound, and the latest viral star to be catgorized as an "industry plant." McRae has since denied the claims in a recent interview with Variety, stating “I’m like, I’ve been grinding since 13 years old! I’m probably the furthest thing from an industry plant for how long I’ve been doing this.”
But for an artist with as many years of training and hours logged as McRae, you would think an identity would sprout through the cracks in the concrete; that through might and/or mettle, the Billboard featherweight would find her own musical direction. Instead, McRae cashes in on the safety of trails tread barren, opting instead to unveil her everycolor collection of right-handed hockey gloves, like that of a Canadian Michael Jackson, to remind her totally unplanted fans and listeners of her northern North American roots.
All in all, THINK LATER falls miles short of memorable, making little to no effort to veil its shortcomings or deny the notion that this record was the best possible product the Calgary chanteuse was capable of creating. As McRae (sort of) tries to pass along in the "greedy" music video, sports are as indicative of love and music as they are of life. In the case of THINK LATER, unfortunately, not even a custom set of pillows (leg pads) can save it from mediocrity.