By Leah Greenblatt
May 07, 2021 at 04:03 PM EDT
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Bebe Rexha
Credit: Jack Gorlin

For nearly a decade Bebe Rexha has circled fame, a shiny satellite caught somewhere in the vapor layer between featured guest and name-brand celebrity. Strictly by the numbers, she's a superstar: Some 12 billion streams testify to a career heavy on far-flung collaborations (Florida Georgia Line, Nicki Minaj) and a kind of happy style-hopping opportunism.

 Her sophomore full-length Better Mistakes swings accordingly, opening on the woozy Warped Tour stomp of "Break My Heart Myself" with Blink-182's Travis Barker before seguing into the airy, angsty ballads "Sabotage" and "Trust Fall." The syncopated title track works down a YOLO laundry list of questionable choices ("I should dye my hair/I should f--- my ex/I should lose my phone") while "Baby I'm Jealous" roller-discos in on a squiggly rubber-band bass line and tart Doja Cat guest rap. The low-slung Lil Uzi Vert duet "Never Die For a Man" and loping "On the Go," assisted by Pink Sweats and Lunay, swear by a single-lady independence that the midtempo despair of "Death Row" and spiraling "Empty" almost immediately throw by the wayside.

If there's a through-line on Mistakes, it's a sort of dear-diary fatalism invariably sweetened by pop sheen; crippling anxiety and self-sabotage, but make it slappy. (The singer has essentially said as much in recent interviews.) With her baby-woman rasp and hiccuping hooks, Rexha often sounds, to borrow the references of another era, like a Britney wrapped in the rebel-yell poses of an Avril or Pink. For all Better's stark confessionals, It's that mutability maybe that makes her still somehow unknowable — even as the hits keep coming. Grade: B

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