Charli XCX truly goes next level with “Charli”

“PURE FACTS: MY ALBUM IS AMAZING!!!” said Charlotte Aitchison – the woman better known as Charli XCX – in an Aug. 24 Instagram post, holding up a vinyl copy of her self-titled new album. “MAKE SURE U DO THIS [pre-order] FOR A LIFE CHANGING AUDIO/VISUAL/MENTAL BRAIN WARP OVERLOAD,” she added.

Usually, when artists call their musical works something akin to a resurrection or the invention of sliced salami, I get concerned and a little bit skeptical. 

When I got the notification that “Charli” came out, I was hesitant to start listening. I was afraid I would be disappointed. 

It’s a good thing I persevered, because “Charli” is a damn good album. 

“Charli” is her eighth release and third studio album as an artist after several consecutive EP and mixtape releases – namely 2016’s “Vroom Vroom,” and 2017’s double serving of “Number 1 Angel” and “Pop 2.” 

This also acts as a return to releasing under a major record label, teaming with Atlantic Records once again.

When you ask most people about Charli XCX, almost everyone will remember her reign on the radio from 2012 to 2014, with noteworthy appearances on Icona Pop’s “I Love It” and Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy.” She also had a monstrous hit of her own with “Boom Clap,” thanks to the success of the film, “The Fault in Our Stars.”

That Charli XCX is gone. She has evolved wildly since those days and each track highlights this metamorphosis in grand detail. 

The opening song, “Next Level Charli,” is rather repetitive – at least to the point at which if you try hard enough, you can learn the whole song – but it paints a picture that demands attention. 

Charli XCX is no longer about silly love songs named after onomatopoeias – she’s about the party life and the energy those environments emit.

Following that is the album’s first guest appearance of many, “Gone,” which highlights the French singer Christine and the Queens. It’s a bass-thumping, funky romp that encapsulates the sensation of being around lots of people but feeling alone.

“1999,” alongside Troye Sivan, is a trip back in time with more ‘90s references than a T-shirt at Urban Outfitters, but it is quite the tonal shift among the first three tracks. Slow jams progressing into a dance party feels weird, but it doesn’t detract from the experience much, thankfully. 

If you thought the next song was not going to have a feature, you are sorely mistaken, but “Click,” showcasing Kim Petras and rapper Tommy Cash, is a treat for any Petras fans out there. I say that because while Cash has a decent verse, Petras’ verse steals the spotlight and the show, so much so to the point where Charli had to re-record her own lines.

“Shake It” is also noteworthy, not just because it has the most features on the album – Big Freedia, CupcakKe, Brooke Candy, and Pabllo Vittar – but also because it’s a raw and raunchy song that’s perfect for those late Saturday nights in a swanky club. The incorporation of the Louisiana bounce style for Big Freedia’s segment is just brilliant production work, and it needs to be commended.

While a large portion of the album contains features, Charli’s solo work is absurdly catchy and deeply personal. Songs such as “Official,” “I Don’t Wanna Know,” and “White Mercedes” are slow and emotional, whereas the rhythms found in “Silver Cross” are unrelenting and energetic. “Silver Cross” is, quite possibly, her best song yet.

It’s impossible to extol the virtues of Charli’s musical prowess in a short review, but let me say this: If you haven’t caught up with Charli XCX since the radio days, I highly recommend that you check this album out. You will not regret it.

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