Chloe and Halle Bailey were barely teenagers when their YouTube cover of Beyonce’s “Pretty Hurts” became a viral hit, winning the attention of the pop superstar herself, who signed them to her Parkwood label, featured them on the Lemonade visual album, and took them on her Formation tour as her opening act. By now, as they move into their early twenties, they’re a musical force in their own right, and their second album is a multi-faceted R&B treat, full of glistening vocal chemistry, sharp writing, and a self-determination you want to get up and cheer for.
Where their 2018 debut, The Kids Are Alright, played subtly with themes of coming-of-age discovery on tunes like “Fake,” “Baptize,” and “Grown” — the theme song of Grown-ish (on which the sisters are co-stars) — Ungodly Hour moves assuredly into decidedly adult-ish territory, often in strikingly specific terms. “I’m gonna make no apologies/If you lose a life that’s not on me,” they warn a potentially no-good man on “Tipsy,” while “Busy Boy” navigates a byzantine matrix of romantic intrigue: “It’s nine o’clock/I get a text sayin’, ‘Are you up?’/ ‘Bout 9:15/My girl said she got the same message, same thing/A few days, yeah, we’re cool/Then you disappear like I’m a fool/You told me that you with your family/My girl saw you with someone, leavin’ the party.” It’s enough to make you want to move back home with mom and dad, but they take on every weird situation with steely resolve.
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