sun 14/07/2024

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

CD: Charli XCX - Sucker

CD: Charli XCX - Sucker

Perennial guest star pens some hits of her own

She don't care: Charli XCX is loving it on 'Sucker'

Had it not been for the fact that Charli “XCX” Aitchison had struggled to find a hit of her own until last summer’s Fault in Our Stars-soundtracking “Boom Clap”, I’d be convinced that she had tapped into some secret formula for producing perfect pop hits.

“I Love It”, the rabble-rousing breakup anthem she wrote for Swedish electropop duo Icona Pop and her attention-grabbing hook on Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy” share a distinguishable swagger, but had little impact on the negligible success of her 2013 major label debut True Romance. In the fickle world of pop music, that should have been enough to sentence Aitchison to a lifetime of co-writes – but, thanks to a pair of fictional cancer-stricken teenagers, this precociously talented songwriter got a second chance to make her own mark.

I say “precociously talented” because, while Aitchison’s brand of ballsy brat-pop calls back to everything from the Runaways to Britney Spears, both she and her music feel far less like the product of a series of boardroom meetings. Sucker still boasts enough production, remixing and co-writing credits to field its own football team (and given they include Ariel Pink, Rivers Cuomo and Vampire Weekend’s Rostam Batmanglij I’ll let you form your own mental picture), but they’re undoubtedly captained by the same character that made her songs with Iggy and Icona Pop the strongest on each respective album. In fact it’s “Boom Clap”, which shows up about halfway through Sucker, that ultimately sounds like the odd one out – it’s a bubblegum love song that pops and fizzes, more spring-in-the-step than clean-right-hook.

It’s also way less interesting than the album’s title track, which combines the theme music from Candy Crush and a Lauren Laverne-inspired vocal with a kiss-off punchline you’d never get played on the radio; or “Break the Rules”, which sounds like a gang of girl bikers kicking in the door of a warehouse rave. Bratty new single “Breaking Up” and peppy anthem “Famous” share hilarious lyrics and catchy choruses, and “So Over You” would have been a far better fit on that Taylor Swift viral break-up playlist. In fact, for proof that Aitchison deserves her second chance to tear pop music a new one look no further than track 7: a tedious duet with the inexplicably ubiquitous Rita Ora. Choose wisely, pop fans.

Overleaf: hear "Break the Rules"


Add comment

Subscribe to

Thank you for continuing to read our work on For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 15,000 pieces, we're asking for £5 per month or £40 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take a subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a gift subscription?


Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters