Charlie XCX, Crash, ★★★★☆
Is Charli XCX a pop star? I can’t really say anymore. Multi-talented singer-songwriter-producer Charlotte Aitcheson certainly looks and sounds like the part, flaunting a lively glamorous high-concept art pop swagger since she was signed as 16-year-old from Essex in the haze of time became . Well, 2008.
She’s released five studio albums and four mixtapes of bold, imaginative sci-fi hyper-pop that blends influences from mainstream dance music and whimsical, experimental digital electro with a bravura spirit that anticipated the maximalism of K-pop. She has a cult following that gives her millions of dollars in streaming, even scoring two massive transatlantic number-one singles in 2012, albeit as a writer and guest on other artists’ records (We Love It with Icona Pop and Fancy with Iggy Azalea ).
And yet this seems like a stingy return considering how aggressively she grabs attention and how she handles her pop-song craft with hooks to full effect. Much admired by her peers, she’s worked with a staggering number of chart-hot names (including Lady Gaga, David Guetta and Lizzo, as well as such venerated veterans as Giorgio Moroder and Blondie), but somehow her selling magic hasn’t quite rubbed off. Her latest album, 2020’s Vulnerable, Inventive, How I Feel Now, was widely hailed as a lockdown masterpiece, but faltered at number 33 in the UK and number 111 in the US. She’s been deservedly treated as a huge talent in the pop landscape for over a decade, but in purely commercial terms she remains an odd fringe figure, like someone’s idea of a fictional superstar that no one in the real world has actually heard of.
Her sixth album, Crash, is the last of her deal with Warners, a label her artistic instincts have often put her at odds with, and it feels like she’s going bust with the boldest, most colorful yet decidedly uncomplicated album of her career . Leading up to this, she posted a series of messages on social media, jokingly suggesting she was ready to sell herself, explaining that she “makes a major label album the way it’s actually made” and ” embrace everything that life does”. of a pop poster child in today’s world” that appears to encompass “fame, glamour, inner demons and global hits”. The latter continues to prove frustratingly elusive, with none of the pre-singles catching fire on the charts (Beg For You featuring Rina Sawayama reached the dizzying heights of number 29 in the UK).
The thing is, you can’t just choose to have a hit, any more than a critically acclaimed novelist can choose to write a bestseller. Something about Charli XCX’s unconventional sensibility doesn’t resonate with the spirit of the pop moment. Jazzed up in bikinis and big hair as if to grossly emphasize her pin-up appeal, she can’t help but twist that trashy aesthetic by appearing on the cover of her album, blood pouring from her head, posing like a Model in a stylized car crash.
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/music/artists/rosalia-future-pop-plus-weeks-best-albums/ Rosalia is the future of pop, plus this week’s best albums