thu 09/02/2023

Album: Charli XCX - Crash | reviews, news & interviews

Album: Charli XCX - Crash

Album: Charli XCX - Crash

Fifth album from a reliably bright and musically astute pop star and songwriter

Charli XCX embraces her David Lynch side

Charli XCX is the pop stars’ pop star.

Working with everyone from K-pop megastars BTS to US rapper Lil Yachty to indie-rockers Vampire Weekend, her career arc has a meta aspect, initially personified by her joyously electro-punky second album Sucker, but then given addition human warmth by her COVID lockdown openness. Terms such as “hyper-pop” and “avant-pop” are sometimes used to differentiate her output, but why reinvent the wheel. Her fifth album is pop, pure and simple, well-crafted sonically snappy 2022 pop.

The subject matter throughout is love and sex, infidelity and longing, but the only truly original narrative is the entertaining and borderline brilliant “Yuck”, a catchy, squidgy slow-funkin’ number wherein Charli cringes at a soppy suitor (“Looking at me all sucky/Quit acting like a puppy”). This isn’t to suggest this is the only good track, far from it. Anyone who’s heard the bangin’ thump-pop single “Good Ones” will know there’s at least one other corker. In fact, there’s a bunch of them.

The chugging garage-beaty “Beg For You”, with Rina Sawayama, showcases XCX’s way with a chorus and also her flighty, airy, characterful voice, while the retro-house floorfiller “Used to Know” is a cheerfully blatant lift from Robin S’s deathless 1993 hit, “Show Me Love” (yet another!). And there’s a strand of Eighties-flavoured electro-funk on the album, most notably "New Shapes", featuring Christine and the Queens, which owes a slight debt to Van Halen’s “Jump”, but also the sex-fuelled “Baby” and the aforementioned “Yuck”.

Other songs worth a visit include Madonna-ish Vocoder stomper “Lightning” – featuring unlikely flamenco guitar - and the wistfully sweet and floaty “Constant Repeat” (“You could have had a bad girl by your side”!). All in all, there’s plenty of juice here, plenty to draw the listener back. Charlie XCX is a smart, sassy, likeable post-Lady Gaga star, and Crash is a solid addition to her canon.

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