Liz Foster ’22
“I go hard, I go fast/ And I never look back” aptly opens “Next Level Charli,” the first track on Charli XCX’s newest album, the appropriately titled Charli. Charli is the British pop singer-songwriter’s first official album release since her 2014 dream-meets-bubblegum pop record SUCKER. In these past five years, Charli XCX has consistently proven herself as the future of pop music, earning critical acclaim from reviewers, contemporaries, and every person on Twitter. With Charli, the twenty seven year old secures her title as the future of pop and a legend in the making.
Charli effectively mixes different elements from her over decade long career of making music. The features on the album draw heavily from past collaborators of Charli with the likes of Kim Petras, Cupcakke, and Troye Sivan, showcasing how Charli is powerful both alone and in cohorts with fellow pop icons. The most apparent collaboration throughout Charli is its co-producer, P.C. Music head A.G. Cook. On tracks like “1999,” the production is bubbly, rich with claps and synths, but others like “Shake It,” featuring Big Freedia, Cupcakke, Brooke Candyand Pabllo Vittar) dive into his primary element with clunky, technological sounds.
The flux between radio-safe pop bangers (“1999,” “Gone”) with Pop 2-esque tracks like “Click” and “White Mercedes” reveals how chameleon-like Charli XCX truly is. With its clunky, simply weird sounds, “Click” is one of the album’s best tracks. Featuring pop princess Kim Petras and Estonian rapper Tommy Cash, the song is a wet dream for fans of Charli’s Vroom Vroom EP. Banging noises accent Cash’s quick flows while Petras sprinkles in bubblegum, Britney energy, all glued together by Charli’s confident, warped voice mixed with Cook and Dylan Brady’s smashing sounds. Seriously, just listen to this song.
Charli XCX the human, not the singer, shines through on Charli in a newer, more reflective manner. Even on the happy, fast paced production of “Gone” she laments on hating the people around her, and feeling “so unstable.” On “White Mercedes,” she’s pondering drugs and love, reflecting if she can truly be with the person she loves. Her audience gets a look beyond the party loving, carefree mask so often projected by Charli. She’s introspective, in some moments even sad. With this vulnerability, Charli opens up the doors for the world to learn who the real Charli is.
In the wake of the critical success of her works like Vroom Vroom and Pop 2, heavy pressure sat on Charli’s shoulders. The past five years built up to a momentous occasion, a future classic pop record by one of the genre’s most underrated voices. With the release of Charli, the Brit pop star has secured her title as a pop legend.
Or rather, as Charli spouts on her final track, “2099 ft. Troye Sivan,” she’s the “future, future, ah!”