What a Time is a new song from Julia Michaels feature Niall Horan, on this She’s still largely adhering to the Michaels formula — which mainly involves a syncopated rhythm, a jumble of words, negative space, and an undeniable hook — but it’s a formula that works well, and there’s some solid additions to the Michaels canon here. “Anxiety,” which features Selena Gomez, finds the two of them trading thoughts on their mental health over snaps and a razor-sharp guitar. On “Into You,” she adds in stadium echoes and booms and a strobing vibe that strikes just left of Lorde.
The most immediate standout is “Happy,” where Michaels, strained-voice and desperate, breaks out of beat to reflect on how writing lovesick songs might affect her life as a whole. “Sometimes I think I kill relationships for art/ I start up all this shit to watch them fall apart/ I pay my bills with it/ I watch them fall apart and pay the price for it,” she sings.