Charlie XCX is hard to define as an artist. She seems to still have a heavy foot in mainstream and bubblegum pop, while experimenting with the constant deconstruction in hyperpop. The 29-year- old songwriter, composer and interpret, did create tracks that sounded like hits made by Rihanna, Gwen Stefani, or Sky Ferreira, and did collaborate with Carly Rae Jepsen, Iggy Azalea, and Tove Lo. However, she also invited guests from more experimental universes on her albums, such as Brooke Candy, Cupcakke, or Mykki Blanco. Besides, she happens to have her avant- garde backing too... PC Music boss and producer A.G. Cook is her artistic director!
Huge part of Charli XCX’s charm, this ambivalence is not fully developed on her fifth album Crash, released on March 18th. In the twelve tracks of her album, the pop star puts an emphasis on a Katy Perry- like sweet mainstream pop, more than on the bold sounding of the late SOPHIE, who worked with Charlie XCX and to who the album is dedicated. Almost each one of the tracks could be the next summer hit of any club.
Whether it is Good Ones, which revives the synth spirit of Eurythmics, New Shapes, featuring Christine and the Queens and Caroline Polachek, or Beg For You with Rina Sawayama, they all encapsulate catchy choruses that stay in your head long after you hit the STOP button. Working along with captivating artists and producers such as Oneohtrix Point Never, Charlie XCX fascinates with her good sense for toplines, her Gwen Stefani-like falsetto, and her lyrics about her deceptive and quite toxic love stories. More than one lonely broken heart will identify to them...
Like Dua Lipa with Future Nostalgia (2020) and The Weeknd with Dawn FM (2022), she conjures up the past to turn her pop music into a convincing retro futuristic ambiance. One can spot references to Cameo, New Order, synthwave from the 80s, house music (the everlasting Show Me Love by Robin S is sampled on Used to Know Me) and eurodance (Beg For You uses September’s hit Cry for You). If the album lacks a touch of subversion – which is too bad for an artist who fuels her new aesthetics with clear references to Cronenberg – the British singer of Boom Clap (2014) delivers a sparkling electropop rendition that feels good listening to in today’s troubled times.
Crash (2022) by Charlie XCX, available on every music platform. Live concert in Paris at the Trianon on March 25th, 2022.