Charli XCX travels to unfamiliar dimensions in her new album “Charli”


Charli XCX released her first studio album in 5 years "Charli" on Sept. 13, 2019

Charli XCX’s first full-length studio album in five years is a self-reflective lens into her future.

Known for her hit song “Boom Clap” and features on Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy” and Icona Pop’s “I Love It,” Charli XCX completely diverts from the faux-rebellious pop image that made her popular in the early 2010s and fully-introduces her digitized and artistically auto-tuned image for the general public.

Since her involvement with the PC Music scene 2016, she has released her EP “Vroom Vroom” and two mixtapes titled “Number 1 Angel” and “Pop 2.” Those unaware of her experimental avant-garde pop records will be shocked by how distinctive her new sound is on her new album “Charli.”

An ambitious project with over 15 tracks and 14 featured artists, the album almost serves as the “Infinity War” for the underground pop scene; Charli composes an auditorial universe set in a place with no space and time, where each of her collaborators and producers has their own persona and each artist gains their own spotlight.

The lead single “1999” featuring Troye Sivan, is a UK house and Eurodance track with an infectious groove that is perfect for the dancefloor. On the contrary, Sivan and Charli’s second track together on the album “2099”, is much slower, encapsulating a feeling of wandering in space.

Much of what works well on this album is how Charli utilizes the features in each of her songs. Despite “Blame It On Your Love” essentially being an inferior rework of “Track 10” from Charli’s “Pop 2,” Lizzo’s appearance re-energizes the track and helps the flow of the album.

Christine and the Queens and Charli XCX’s “Gone” is a pulsating synthpop track filled with energy and unspeakably mesmerizing chemistry between the femme fatale duo. Other tracks such as “Shake It” and “February 2017” involve bombastic crashes and subtle noises that clash together for melodies that are simultaneously inaccessible and exciting.

Of her solo tracks, “I Don’t Wanna Know” provides the perfect mix between the past and the future. It is a slower ballad with a powerful drum beat that could easily have been an 80s classic in a previous life.

Often criticized for its manufactured image and abundance of auto-tune, pop music becomes the music industry’s punching bag for society to train their swings and blows upon.

On her new album, Charli XCX ignores the criticisms and creates the experimental music she was born to create.

If Death Grips, Kanye West’s “Yeezus” and M.I.A. “Maya” laid down the foundation for industrial and experimental hip-hop that blends with rock and punk music, Charli XCX’s “Charli” properly creates the vision of cyber-punk pop music released for an audience too far behind in time. 

Charli successfully matures into the avant-garde superhero of pop music and has created her band of Avenger-lite collaborators. While pop’s future is uncertain, with artists and visionaries like Charli XCX and the rest of PC Music, the future is catastrophically beautiful.