Album Review: Charli XCX – Charli (2019)

  • Originally posted on September 13, 2019

It will surprise no one who knows me that I have decided to do a review of Charli XCX’s new, self-titled third album. I am one of her Angels (which I not only realised is a reference to Charlie’s Angels, but also I find it quite incredible how the lead soundtrack single is also out today from the reboot?). I’ve jeard that she is great live… I will let you know when I’ve seen her next month.

I went into the album with two main thoughts in my head. Surprisingly (to me anyway) her release score on Metacritic is 81/100, which indicates ‘universal acclaim’. This was either going to be something truly special, or the reviewers were trying to get into the 21st Century by actually embracing PC Music. The second thought was that most of the album seemed to have already been released through singles.

The world’s first taste of ‘Charli’ came last autumn, when ’1999’, her first collaboration with Troye Sivan, became a club hit. It peaked at #13 on the UK Singles Chart, which gave her her best position since 2015. Not that she gives a fuck about charts. It was truly one of the best songs of 2018, and remains solid on this album. The same cannot be completely said about ’2099’, the follow-up: released as a single on Tuesday, it takes the futuristic vibes to the next level. As such, it obviously does not have the catchy pop hooks of the first edition, but is not a bad song. It just takes a few listens to get into it.

Another reused collab is ‘Shake It’, which features Brooke Candy, CupcakKe and Pabllo Vittar, the same line up as 2017’s ‘I Got It’, while also adding Big Freedia to the mix. I Got It is possibly Charli’s greatest song (in my humblest of opinions); Shake It is possibly the weakest song on the album. It didn’t help that all I could hear throughout the opening was ‘Shakira, Shakira’ over and over. Again, not a bad song.

My favourite on the album is ‘Gone’, Charli’s collab with Christine and the Queens. Complete with gorgeous French lyrics and an equally stunning music video featuring rain and cars, it ponders relationships from an interestsing perspective: ‘why do we leave when the chase is done?’ I’ll leave that up to you.

As the release has swept westwards across the globe, one song in particular has seen criticism from Angels. ‘White Mercedes’ sounds very similar to a pop song from many years ago (although I can’t quite place it), but still manages to stay fresh in the current climate. I personally love the song and I would go as far to say that it is the best non-single on the album.

This album is a solid 8.5–9/10. There aren’t any songs which I would class as skips, and Charli’s unique style shines through. My main concern is that Charli seems to prefer the mixtape life — 10 songs as opposed to 15. This is her first album since 2014’s ‘True Romance’, but I would argue that her style is not suited to albums, and this is more about bowing to pressure from her fanbase to release XCX3. Number 1 Angel and (especially) Pop 2 were always going to be exceptionally tough to beat, tough.

I know you’ve probably heard most of the album before… but you’ll really be missing out if you don’t hear the rest of it!

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