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CD: Charli XCX - Charli | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Charli XCX - Charli

CD: Charli XCX - Charli

Futuristic pop pioneer bares her soul, with a little help from her friends

Charli: an album nobody else could have made

Charli XCX would make a cracking mixtape. I mean that not in the hip hop culture sense - although she’s knocked out a few of those in the five years since the release of Sucker, her last album proper - but like the mixtapes you used to make for your friends and crushes. There’s every chance that the 27-year-old Charli has never made a physical mixtape, but no matter: Charli, with its mixture of styles and guest features from across the worlds of rap, pop and hip hop, is her gift to you. And if you don’t love every track on it, that’s kind of the point: who universally adores their pals’ music taste, anyway?

Much as those physical mixtapes always, through their song choices, revealed more than you intended, Charli is a deeply personal work on which fast cars, futuristic sounds, weird beats and high-profile guest slots can’t cover up raw emotion. Take “Thoughts”, a sort-of stream-of-consciousness filtered through autotune, an air raid siren and the slow-moving cocoon that is LA traffic: “did I lose it all? are my friends really friends? are they all far gone?” Or “White Mercedes”, a sad-girl slow dance of surprisingly delicate vocal dexterity with its devastating closer: “all I know is I don’t deserve you”.

It’s an intimacy that spills onto the feature tracks too, even when the feelings are disguised as party anthems. “Blame It On Your Love” is romantic, sensual and danceable, even if Lizzo’s gleeful rap plays up the latter at the expense of the former; while “Gone” finds Charli duetting with Christine and the Queens over the pulsing industrial wasteland beat of a breaking heart. But there’s plenty of fun to be had here too: time traveling with Troye Sivan to a “1999” neither can quite remember and a “2099” that sounds like nothing on earth. “Click”, all fast-moving wordplay and futuristic dazzle, collaborators Kim Petras and Tommy Cash becoming increasingly unmoored from earth. And “Shake It”, for those still up at 3am: outrageous, filthy and something nobody else could have made.

Below: hear "Blame It On Your Love", Charli XCX's collaboration with Lizzo

Fast cars, futuristic sounds, weird beats and high-profile guest slots can’t cover up raw emotion

rating

Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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