Charli XCX, a British singer and songwriter, finally comes back with her new third music album “Charli”.
Charli began her official music career co-writing the smashing hit single “I love it” for Swedish pop-duo “Icona Pop.” Ironically, the duo will be always remembered as the one-hit-wonder, meanwhile, Charli XCX was to become the new pop icon.
In 2014, Charli entered the big music arena with her second album “Sucker” containing hit singles “Boom Clap” (soundtrack to the famous teenage drama “The Fault in Our Stars’) and “Break the Rules.” The release was well-received by critics and audiences, meanwhile, the album made the main point of Charli’s artistry: does she need to follow the rules of the pop industry? Or can she create the new ones?
Two years later, Charli meets SOPHIE and A.G. Cook, the PC Music production team, to collaborate to her EP “Vroom Vroom” which “snatched the wigs” of the whole gay community, and this is where she became the unstoppable pop machine creating more and more bops for the audience with catchy lyrics and upbeat tempo. This was the day when people stopped calling her “That girl from ‘Fancy’ who looks like Lorde” (the smashing hit performed by Iggy Azalea and Charli XCX). “Vroom Vroom” kills all the critics from the Pitchfork and establishes the new Charli: the bionic pop fembot.
Currently, we can’t imagine Charli’s production without PC Music, which makes a response to the current situation in pop music with the cyber and genderless attitude. With the strong electronic sound, PC Music wants to replicate the feeling of the ‘90s British electronic music scene, built by such legends as the Chemical Brothers, Burial, Massive Attack, and Bjork, but at the same time, they try to experiment and exaggerate it even more.
The following mixtapes, “Number 1 Angel” and “POP2” (and the current album “Charli”) created a new unofficial triptych in Charli’s discography. “N1A” and “POP2” are like twin sisters with lots of autotune, fast beats, Europop production and lots of collaborations (with Tove Lo, Alma, MØ, Dorian Electra and others).
While her debut “True Romance” was an experience of dark pop, and “Sucker” was the most pop record with pink fleur of romantics and punk, “Charli” becomes a journey which takes you back to the future into the world of androids and electronic white horses.
In her new album, Charli approaches pop music in a most futuristic way, which has more autotune, more weird mixes of sounds, and even more collaborations. Charli and A.G. Cook turned all the attributes of the kitsch and vulgar sound of the 2000s (autotune, typical dance lyrics, sparkles, and expensive luxury cars) into the postmodern response to modern culture and the classic rules of pop hits.
Charli XCX doesn’t want to be a self-centered artist, and she understands how the team and collaborations work together. One of the best tracks is “Shake it” featuring Big Freedia, CupcakKe, Brooke Candy and Pabllo Vittar. This track, which is a perfect jam for a wild night in a gay bar, doesn’t even include that much of Charli’s vocals (just the chorus ‘I shake I shake ooohh’) but still, you feel her unique vibe.
‘Charli’ also refers to the disappointment in the popular music industry, where in the simple lyrics “I go hard, I go fast, and I never look back” (track “Next Level Charli”) she promises never to come back to the past management and past pop postulates. She develops the same thoughts about her former manager in “Cross You Out” (“But you’re gone and I’m doing fine, I’m screaming out… I’ll finally cross you out”) and “2099” (“Had bad people in my business, gone now… Think I care about the fame? Na-na-na-na”) referring to how the previous team never wanted to understand her vision and always asked her for more “Fancy” and “Boom Clap” songs.
Every music robot has a romantic heart, so Charli adds three truly romantic ballads to her LP: “White Mercedes”, “February 2017” and “Official” which sounds like a total autotune commitment and asks her love partner for forgiveness.
Kim Petras, a German transgender pop princess, and Tommy Cash, an Estonian “criminal” freak, join Charli for “Click” track, which sounds like the second part of the “Track 10” from “Pop 2.” Both tracks have a very noisy and bizarre electronic sound which can compete with Aphex Twin’s early creations.
The working title of “Charli” was “Best Friends”, probably stating that collaborations work for Charli in an opposite way than in the current pop music. Usually, the pop singer would invite a popular hip-hop artist to sing an unnecessary verse as the build-up before the final chorus. Meanwhile, Charli invites her “best friends” such as A.G. Cook, umru, Big Freedia, Sky Ferreira, Yaeji, Kim Petras and others to give them a platform for the creative process, which can lead to remarkable results.
The ultimate best track of “Charli” is “Gone” co-written with French singer-songwriter Christine and the Queens. This is the new hymn for all ‘antisocial social’ people, supported with a hot music video in the style of Russian ‘90s iconic duo t.A.T.u.
Charli has also collaborated with the Australian teenage icon Troye Sivan. The lead single “1999” takes us back to Britney Spears, the Matrix movie and plastic Spice Girls. The album ends with the follow-up track ‘2099”, also recorded with Sivan, which gives us a perspective on the future of music with the background sound of “Transformers.”
Compared to her previous mixtapes, “Number 1 Angel” and “Pop 2”, “Charli” has a fine reflection on her previous image of a wannabe chart-topper, who knows that her music will never be understood by huge pop masses (which doesn’t prevent her from making huge sold-out shows with her new tour). Charli appears on the cover as a naked android, resembling somehow Jesus Christ of modern music: and this is how she leads us to the form of the new pop artist who sets up the rules of the future industry.
Go and check out Charli XCX with the support of Dorian Electra at ROXY on November 14:
Cover image belongs to Atlantic