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Charli XCX - Charli (Album Review)

Thursday, 19 September 2019 Written by Milly McMahon

Photo: Marcus Cooper

Charli XCX embarked on her career as a songwriter by creating generic pop music engineered to occupy the upper echelons of charts worldwide. Formulaic, channelling girl-power, her unfussy, straight-ahead songs landed in the hands of Icona Pop, Iggy Azalea and Selena Gomez while she figured out how she functioned as a solo artist.

Fast forward half a decade or so and with her third album, ‘Charli’, she has transformatively mastered a hybrid, niche style. Combining percussive synths with experimental pop tropes, the record pushes further into her creative relationship with executive producer A. G. Cook.

The duo have been collaborating since Charli’s ‘Vroom Vroom’ EP in 2016, incorporating Cook's PC Music aesthetic alongside her newfound avant-pop style. Charli's departure from the original XCX sound is increasingly revelatory. 

White Mercedes is the only track here that slightly resembles the moves Charli cultivated during her ‘True Romance’ era. Switching up tempos and moods from fun, carefree pop starlet, to deep, emotional sparring with Christine and the Queens on Gone, she has changed lanes.

For the fans who loved her then, Charli now is a different beast. Coming of age via her music, a more mature and seasoned artist takes centre stage. Recruiting a strong line up of left of centre creatives to join her ranks, Sky Ferreria, Kim Petras, Tommy Cash, Lizzo, Clairo and Yaeji lend empowered vocals to her glitch-pop atmospheres. 

Singing about ordinary life while musing on rejection, self-doubt, substance abuse and insecurity, Charli wants to represent reality. The closing 2099, featuring Troye Sivan, signifies a real moment for her. This anthem feels like a provocative call to arms backed up by a crew of non-conformist, incensed artists.

Not many musicians have the ability to create such an authentic, off-kilter album when first hailing from a purely commercial background. Charli's conviction in her fresh, liberated approach works. Down to the album artwork, ‘Charli’ feels like the music she has always wanted to write and perform. 

Charli XCX Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Sun October 27 2019 - GLASGOW SWG3
Mon October 28 2019 - BIRMINGHAM O2 Institute
Wed October 30 2019 - MANCHESTER Albert Hall
Thu October 31 2019 - LONDON O2 Academy Brixton

Click here to compare & buy Charli XCX Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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