My excitement for Fletcher’s new album was rivaled only by Fletcher herself, who couldn’t stop teasing snippets and dropping track names on social media in the build up to the album release. So despite my French poetry analysis lingering in front of me, I stopped to listen to all 13 tracks of Fletcher’s debut album — “Girl of My Dreams.” 

The pop-alternative queer icon has hinted at the album for the last two years and finally released the track names in the week leading up to the drop on Sept. 16. “Girl of My Dreams” has been in the works since 2020, when Fletcher first announced its production. However, these plans, as well as her upcoming tour opening for former One Direction member Niall Horan, were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Branded by unmistakable honesty, Fletcher first released track eight, “Her Body Is Bible,” over the summer. The release coincided with Hayley Kiyoko’s “For the girls,” and the two songs instantly became this summer’s queer love anthems. Shortly after, the chaotic messiness of “Becky’s So Hot” on Fletcher’s Instagram reels broke Queer TikTok; many users responded to the toxicity of the song, which name-dropped her ex’s new girlfriend, Becky Missal. While gutsy, the catharsis of “Becky’s So Hot” is potentially morally and ethically problematic but still reveals a frank navigation of post-breakup insanity and the subsequent toxic thoughts. 

Other released singles, like “Sting” and “Better Version,” add more dimension and nuance to Fletcher’s emotional journey following “THE S(EX) TAPES,” co-produced by Shannon Beveridge when they were quarantined together. The lyrics and melody contrast, with the latter more representative of the melancholy of a breakup and the reconciliation of knowing that someone might grow on without you, partly because of you. Since the beginning of her career, Fletcher has crafted her songs and EPs around pain, bitterness and an inkling of toxicity. 

“Girl of My Dreams,” however, is more than just the acrimonious taste in the aftermath of a breakup, the feeling of trying desperately to hate someone with whom you are still madly in love. Certainly, the first half of the album revels in agony, referencing her shared birthday with Beveridge. The drum beats are reminiscent of “Bitter” and “If You’re Gonna Lie,” emphasizing the intensity of her love even as her ex moves on. But really, it’s an album written for no one but Fletcher herself. The girl of her dreams, perhaps at first glance, sounds like the prospect of a new lover, but through “I Think I’m Growing?” and the title track, “Girl of My Dreams,” listeners realize she’s “got a new rebound/ falling for me now.” 

This art of self-reflection almost seems to come effortlessly to Fletcher — she remarks on her failed relationships in the past and explores her imperfections that played a part in the end of a relationship. With the fast tempo of “Serial Heartbreaker,” as well as many other songs filled with heavy drum kicks and distorted guitar chords echoing into the background, it almost sounds like her self-growth is permeating her life. 

Fletcher somehow takes the most traumatizing emotions — from loss and grief to obsession and heartbreak — and manages to express them with complete simplicity. The album reeks of melancholic optimism, an act of past pains but an acknowledgement of their role in helping her grow. It plays with opposing forces and contradictory emotions — wanting to get back with your ex and thinking about the possibilities of trying again, while also recognizing the self-growth and self-love necessary to heal. Though “Girl of My Dreams” sheds light on her feelings toward Beveridge, Fletcher truly centers herself in the dialogue.

“I’m not a role model, I don’t want to be a role model and I don’t think we should have role models,” Fletcher said in a Billboard interview. She stops considering the expectations for how people think she should act and uses her music as a diary — albeit a public one. If by any chance someone can relate, Fletcher feels their love; ultimately, she knows that she relates, and that is enough. In many ways, she’s asking people to see her music and herself, as human — a heartbroken, still-healing human with occasionally unhinged thoughts. But, isn’t that all of us?  

Fletcher ends the album with “For Cari,” a vocal-heavy acoustic composition, reclaiming herself with a ballad and an ode to self-love. “Girl of My Dreams” embodies every bit of modern social themes today — a healthy dose of self-love paired with slightly villainous undertones. The conclusion of Fletcher’s album ends the all-too-familiar heartbreak villain origin story and moves on in a spectacular toast to her reflection in the mirror.