After the sister duo Chloe x Halle spent a year working on their sophomore album — which they co-wrote, co-produced and co-engineered — they sent it off to get thoughts from their mentor, King Beyoncé.
Her royal response: It’s flawless.
“When we sent her the album, she said that she loved it and didn’t have any notes,” Chloe Bailey recalled in an interview with The Associated Press. “(We) were like, ‘Oh wow!’ She must really like it because she always sends notes, which we appreciate and add in most of the time. I’m really proud of this album and if she loves it, I hope everyone else loves it, too.”
The 13-track “Ungodly Hour,” to be released Friday by Beyoncé’s Parkwood Entertainment and Columbia Records, finds the singing siblings, who debuted on the music scene as cute, innocuous teenagers, transitioning into adulthood.
The co-stars of the hit TV series “grown-ish” are all grown up on the project, as the singers trade verses on the songs — and do that epic sisterly harmonization thing — while singing about female independence, self-worth and relationship woes, including dusty boys and players. They even occasionally drop the f-bomb.
“We’re growing as young women. We’re finding ourselves through experiences — whether it’s through love, through heartbreak, getting over any insecurities we may have — we just wanted to put that into the music,” said Chloe Bailey, who turns 22 next month.
“The root of everything is definitely the inspiration of our lives,” added Halle Bailey, 20. “A lot of the songs on the album — well, most of them — are true.”
To create the album, which they finished in November, they converted the garage of their new home in Los Angeles into a home studio. They laid down new carpet to improve the acoustics and sound quality, and put up curtains and brought in comfy couches.
The album bumps with mid-tempo and groovy R&B flavor throughout, as the musicians sing about going out and kiki-ing with the girls on “Do It” to demanding their potential suitors love themselves first before pursuing them on the title track. “Forgive Me” finds Chloe Bailey high on emotions as she sings about a personal experience: “I was into this guy and I felt we had something, and we were talking but I found out that he was involved with someone else at the same time.”
So she went into the studio and freestyled the lyrics. “I feel like when you’re hurting or your emotions are heightened, it’s a lot easier to create,” she said.
On the catchy and radio-ready “Busy Boy,” they sing: “It’s 4 o’clock, you sending me too many pictures of your (insert eggplant emoji here).”
Some of the material surprised their parents.
“Dad would be like, ‘What?’ Mom would be like, ‘Oh, really?’ Dad would listen to the song a few more times and be like, ‘OK, I like it,’” Chloe Bailey recalled. “He said, ‘I just had to get over what you guys were saying.’ We all started laughing around the house.”
The album has already marked new heights for the group: First single “Do It,” which had a viral moment on TikTok because of the song’s popular dance, reached No. 9 on Billboard’s R&B songs chart, marking the first time a Chloe x Halle track has appeared on any Billboard chart.
Their debut album, 2018’s “The Kids Are Alright,” peaked at No. 139 on Billboard’s Top 200 albums chart, though the duo earned nominations at the Grammys, MTV Video Music Awards, BET Awards, the Soul Train Music Awards and NAACP Image Awards for the project.
“‘The Kids Are Alright,’ I’m really happy with what it did for us. It wasn’t like a big chart-topper or anything like that,” Chloe Bailey said of the album, which funnily enough lost the best urban contemporary Grammy to “Everything Is Love,” Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s collaborative project. “As long as we got our message across and poured our hearts and love through that, that’s all we needed to do to feel accomplished.”
“I feel we did the same with this album,” she continued. “It’s just a cherry on top when people do praise what you’re putting out.”
Though “Ungodly Hour” features popular producers and songwriters like Sounwave, Disclosure, Scott Storch, Victoria Monet, Boi-1da and Mike WiLL Made-It, the girls are the creative center of the album. Chloe Bailey has production credits on 10 of the 13 songs, three of which she produced alone. She also recorded the duo’s vocals for 12 tracks. And Halle Bailey worked as an assistant engineer on all the songs, and co-produced two of them.
And the girls co-wrote every track on the album.
“Our dad has always told us to be independent and if we don’t know something to figure it out. That’s why we’re so hands on in everything that we do,” Chloe Bailey explained.
“It wouldn’t feel right if we weren’t so hands-on with the process. If it’s our music and our art, we want to articulate in a way that is us fully.”