Due for release June 2nd 2023 via Heavenly Recordings the album is produced by Paul White, celebrated for his work in Golden Rules and with the likes of Charlie XCX and Danny Brown. Hotly-tipped new singer-songwriters Eska and JGrrey feature in addition to Baxter’s regular vocalist Madeline Hart.
I Thought I Was Better Than You marks a new era for Baxter, and with this new era comes a new character. “Faux-confrontational,” Baxter calls him. Here, not only is he recounting his childhood, but he’s also reckoning with it. Instead of just swinging at his past blindfolded with a baseball bat, he talks openly about the toxic cocktail of being born into unfortunately fortunate circumstances, with a persuasive surname but no structure or sense of responsibility with which reap the rewards of it. “Really, it’s about being trapped in an awkward place between something you’re actually quite good at, and somebody else’s success.” That ‘somebody else’ being his dad, Ian Dury. As one of the album centrepieces – Shadow – agonisingly puts it: “But no one will get over that you’re someone’s son/Even though you want to be like Frank Ocean/But you don’t sound like him, you sound just like Ian.”
The record also serves as a kind of extension to Baxter’s 2021 book, Chaise Lounge, in which he winningly recounted the story of his unique childhood. Not only does he expand the language of the book, using words to paint disconnected images rather than to string sentences (a kind of cockney hieroglyphics), but he often revisits moments within the book. Characters like ‘Tricksy’ re-appear in ‘Aylesbury Boy’ and ‘Pale White Nissan’, for example, but mainly it’s the abstracted tales of a young Baxter, troubled and in trouble, a victim of circumstance, straddling between a world of ‘Fuck you Leon…/ You stole the sunglasses and I got busted’ and a desire for ‘Porridge in the morning and be normal’.
1 So Much Money
2 Aylesbury Boy
3 Celebrate Me
7 Pale White Nissan
9 Crowded Rooms