It has been evident for years that Charli XCX was on the precipice of creating something truly great. Myself and many others were waiting with bated breath for the release of her third studio album (and first in 5 years) to see if the potential that songs like ‘Vroom Vroom’ and ‘Track 10’ had provided would be realized. Fortunately, Charli does indeed see Ms. XCX providing music of the highest calibre for a full LP.
Opening with ‘Next Level Charli’, Charli makes it clear from the start that she has absolutely embraced the amazingly grimy and maximalist pop, that can only be described as futuristic. Choosing to work with producers like A.G. Cook and the incredible 100 Gecs (who absolutely dominate on the track ‘Click’) is what has set Charli apart from her contemporaries. Charli’s use of bold, forward-thinking production has allowed her to create something truly unique: an ambitious blend of bright pop melody, held together with an otherworldly experimental sound. This genius is evident on both fun summer jams like ‘1999’ and ‘Cross You Out’ as much as it is on the absolutely insane cuts like ‘Shake It’ and ‘Silver Cross.’
Charli’s energy on the album is also undeniable, carrying herself like the bonafide pop star and queen she is while she effortlessly sings over bold hooks. And behind this manic, glitzy bubblegum energy is an undeniable understanding of her talent as an artist and her ability to take simple ideas and bend them to transcendent heights. All of her performances are tight and while she may not always reach the heights of some of her singles, the end result is still a powerful statement. My one issue with the release is that some of her melodies are played a little safe and could at times be more interesting, yet there are enough jaw-dropping moments for this to be excused.
Music elitists have tried to dismiss pop music since its inception for being vapid or lacking substance. Charli is not necessarily the album that will change their minds, but it does tap into the reasoning as to why these people are wrong: tight melodies and great production are really damn enjoyable. Charli is both an immense talent and a bonafide star and this album would not be nearly as special if just one of these elements existed on it. This is pop music for 50 years from now, so turn it on and feel lucky we live in the same world with someone as innovative and enjoyable as Charli XCX.
Image: Marcus Cooper