Chali XCX - Charli
There has always been something different about Charli XCX's pop stardom. She primed and groomed for the Ariana Grande, Miley Cyrus or Selena Gomez mold minus the Disney/Nickelodeon co-sign. She's even said in interviews that her early work felt like it was getting her to a place where she could truly explore and reveal who she really is. This album though a dance pop record to it's core, allows us to better understand the journey that has lead Charli here. While writing for big pop stars as a young artist Charli saw the things she didn't want to do, and that's why her most recent albums Sucker and Pop 2 were far more adventurous and avante garde than anything she wrote for anyone else. She's always felt she had one foot in the "I'm a major star, watch me shine" camp and one in the "I make my music, then leave me alone". It allows her to distance herself from the sugary sweet and to be honest, somewhat unattractive aspects of the industry. Her music feels completely hers, even when she collaborates. The first major collab comes on "Gone" with Christine and the Queens. The song dives deep on the hard electronics and allows the duo to indulge in a more Gothic electro space. At the heart of what Charli does is this love for pop music, but this nagging former raver voice telling her she should hate it. Finding the balance between the two is when she is the most successful and she finds it around nearly every corner on Charli.
There is this major sense of Charli trying to find her place in the world while always feeling that strong sens of "otherness". That is why her message feels so approachable, everyone at some point feels like they are the one on the outside looking in. A lot of this description feels deep and meaningful, and while this album is full of those moments, there are still plenty of earworms to be had. "1999" featuring Trove Sivan goes for the millenial nostalgia set with with some straight up no frills electropop. It's moderately successful if not a bit plain for this record. "Click" with it's blown out dub step production is a glitchy experimental journey to the abyss. Close behind it "Thoughts" ends up being an intimate look at Charli's mental state and how everything has effected her life. Charli shows an artist that is willing to experiment, but still knows that this is a business and if you can't produce hits you're not going to be around for very long. She expertly doses out the experimental tracks amongst the pop standards like the basic big room EDM inspired "Blame It On Your Love" with Lizzo to give everything room to breathe. Charli lives up to the hype, and at times surpasses it.
8.9 out of 10