For a while now, British producer and singer songwriter Charli XCX has been in the spotlight as an artist on the rise. Once called the future of pop music, it seems that the type of music she’s making takes you further than just mainstream pop music, into a world of hyper-contextualized tones and layers. On her new album Charli she takes her sound further while holding the reigns and controlling the outcome more than most artists within the genre.
The tones on the album are something else, sounding like where PC Music went to when electronic started to head back underground. The opener “Next Level Charli” has vocals at the top of the mix sounding like yelling with the beat falling underneath. For older ears, it may sound off but this is Charli XCX taking things to a whole new level and keeping her pop sheen at the same time. While “Gone” steers a bit closer to the pop sounds that she employed on previous releases, tracks like “1999” have this mix of throwback pop and future beats that has a subdued tone with the vocals up front. It’s definite pop, but it feels deeper and more complex than what’s being offered as pop music as of late.
While the album is full of features like the dark electronica of “Cross You Out (feat. Sky Ferreira)” or the dance fueled electro-pop of “Warm (feat. HAIM),” the track “Blame It On Your Love (feat. Lizzo)” is the strongest of the collaborations. Intertwining a sound that’s like trap re-imagined with pop hip hop, the song is not only a catchy as hell banger but one of the stronger tracks on the release. Though the track with Clairo is definitely a close second with “February 27 (feat. Clairo & Yaeji).” But features aside, Charli XCX finds her own lane with this record, using a sound that sounds like no one else without losing your attention. “White Mercedes” sounds like future pop with this inner sadness that stays in your ears because of how the vocals are mixed. “I Don’t Wanna Know” has this Prince feel, though it’s not a lift but it definitely takes you back to when Prince was the standout on stage at his shows. But with all of this, the track we couldn’t stop playing was “Thoughts.” Staying in the pop world, the way the vocals are in your ears while the beat and the synths are right there, it’s not overbearing but it’s also completely different than pretty much every pop track you’ll hear today. This is Charli XCX leading the way, staying just as future while having more relevance than many who are considered more mainstream.
Charli is available to stream wherever you stream music and it can be purchased in all digital music stores via Atlantic Records. Charli XCX is on tour beginning September 20 at Buckhead Theatre in Atlanta, GA until November 28 at Izvestia Hall in Moscow, Russia. Her complete tour dates can be found here.
Image Credits: Photo by Marcus Cooper.